Together with his critically acclaimed best-seller “Columbine,” writer and Elk Grove Village native Dave Cullen examined the shock, the why and the how within the wake of the lethal faculty capturing in 1999. 20 years later, Cullen’s “Parkland,” which works on sale in the present day, focuses on the motion in response to the Feb. 14, 2018, slaughter of 17 college students and workers members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive College in Parkland, Florida.
Cullen spent a decade reporting and writing in regards to the two killers, the 12 murdered college students and the one slain instructor in Columbine, a suburb south of Denver. By the point he completed, Cullen grew to become such an knowledgeable on the topic that he says he grew to become the “go-to mass-murder man” for tv interviews.
“America was affected by collective post-traumatic stress dysfunction once I began that ebook,” Cullen says, noting that he additionally was nonetheless struggling together with his personal secondary PTSD from overlaying Columbine. “I knew it was horrible, however I did not realize it was a precursor of issues extra horrible. Even 10 years out, once I completed Columbine, we could not think about the trajectory.”
He wrote dozens of articles and went on the air to speak about shootings that killed 32 college students in 2007 at Virginia Tech College, or 20 kids and 6 lecturers in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary College in Connecticut. “I appeared like a type of president’s before-and-after pictures the place I aged in 5 days,” Cullen says, recounting the frustration, the grind and the weariness that adopted Sandy Hook.
He thought, “I am by no means doing this once more,” however by the point of the Parkland shootings, issues had been totally different.
“There have been no vacant stares from the Parkland survivors,” Cullen writes. “This era had grown up on lockdown drills — and this time, they had been prepared.”
The morning after the capturing, Cullen was at CNN headquarters in New York. He watched a stay feed the place 17-year-old pupil David Hogg “referred to as out Grownup America for letting our children die,” Cullen says. “The rebellion had begun.”
After a gunman killed 17 folks at his highschool in Parkland, Florida, pupil David Hogg instantly responded with a name to motion. Elk Grove Village native and best-selling writer Dave Cullen tells that story in his new ebook, “Parkland.”
– Courtesy of Dave Cullen
Just a few days later, Cullen was in Parkland, assembly with Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Jackie Corin, Cameron Kasky, Alfonso Calderon, Alex Wind, Delaney Tarr, Ryan Deitsch, Sarah Chadwick and different college students, who had been throughout social media with #NeverAgain and a name for motion.
“‘Wow! One thing is occurring right here,'” Cullen remembers pondering. “These children are so articulate and so wonderful. … Are they actually doing this themselves?”
The youngsters acquired a $500,000 donation from George and Amal Clooney and different donations from Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and different celebrities, and so they had been blasted by critics as “disaster actors” and pawns for some gun-grabbing agenda. They had been the topics of nasty tweets, mocking memes, outright lies and loss of life threats.
Cullen says he went to Florida suspecting that some adults is likely to be pulling the strings however quickly found that the youngsters had been in cost.
“They put this collectively,” Cullen says, explaining how the youngsters, good and eloquent audio system, collaborated and got here up with the very best tweets or messages earlier than sharing them.
“The professionals can be fortunate to be this good,” he says. “These refreshing children are being themselves and being honest, and that is why they’re succeeding. They know their strengths and weaknesses.”
– Courtesy of HarperCollins
Whereas Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg grew to become audio system for the group, Jackie Corin and others dealt with the manufacturing and scheduling finish of issues, he says. They organized a nationwide faculty walkout on the one-month anniversary of the shootings. They bused supporters to Tallahassee and bought new legal guidelines banning bump shares, elevating the gun buy age to 21 and including a three-day ready interval for many long-gun purchases.
Inside six weeks of the capturing, they organized an enormous March For Our Lives in Washington, with comparable marches throughout the nation.
Utilizing Martin Luther King Jr.’s Six Ideas of Nonviolence, they rapidly realized that “nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not folks” and launched an enormous Street To Change bus journey to fulfill with black and Latino college students victimized by gun violence in Chicago and anxious college students in Naperville, and all through areas sometimes proof against adjustments in gun legal guidelines, together with stops in Texas, Alabama, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, Utah and North Dakota. They registered voters and bought credit score for rising young-voter turnout in Florida by 68 p.c.
Touring, visiting, calling and texting with the scholars all through 2018, Cullen watched the motion unfold and has hopes for a safer America.
“It did recharge me, as a result of now I can speak about options and youngsters doing one thing,” says Cullen, who’s doing loads of media appearances this week to mark the anniversary of Parkland and focus on his second ebook about faculty shootings. “My worst nightmare is that I should write a 3rd one. I wish to be achieved with this. I need America to be achieved with this.”