Why Parkland students are wary of celebrity gun-control donations

Leah Prinzivalli

In the wake of the shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, many people are looking for a way to help. That list includes A-list celebrities.

Student survivors have been highly proactive in the wake of the shooting — already organizing the March for Our Lives, a march to support gun control and demand an end to gun violence. In the days since the march was announced, Oprah Winfrey as well as George and Amal Clooney have stepped forward to offer monetary support. George and Amal Clooney donated $500,000, in the name of their children, Ella and Alexander, to help pay for the costs of the event.

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

“Amal and I are so inspired by the courage and eloquence of these young men and women from Stoneman Douglas High School,” George Clooney said in a statement to the Wrap. “Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side by side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country, and in the name of our children Ella and Alexander, we’re donating $500,000 to help pay for this groundbreaking event. Our children’s lives depend on it.”

Inspired by the Clooneys’ donation, Oprah announced on Twitter that she will donate $500,000 of her own. The donations have also been matched by Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg and his wife, Kate Capshaw.

As reported by the New York Times’ Julie Turkewitz, who embedded with a bus full of students traveling to Tallahassee to speak with lawmakers, some student survivors are wary that Hollywood support may co-opt the cause and make it more difficult to connect with anti-gun-control activists. “Students on the bus are apprehensive about support from George Clooney,” Turkewitz wrote on Twitter about the busload of Parkland survivors. “‘The minute some people on the right see these millionaire names pop up with our movement, it’s going to kind of alienate them,’ said Chris Grady, 18.” One commenter wrote in encouraging students to accept the money: “Money is power — don’t lose your voice, but you will need the money.” Another agreed: “Take the help. But maintain your power and authenticity. Some will use it against you. Don’t own it.”

As the now-famous 18-year-old Parkland survivor Emma González said in a press conference over the weekend, “We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because … we are going to be the last mass shooting.” Even with the likes of George Clooney and Oprah by their side, its the students’ voices that ring the loudest.

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