SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Students from Parkland High School and other schools across the nation aren’t staying silent until the proposed National School Walkout on March 14th.
But are their words their own?
That’s what one former Georgia Congressman is asking — and his comments are drawing national attention.
“Their sorrow can very easily be hijacked by left-wing groups who have an agenda, ” said Jack Kingston on CNN’s New Day Tuesday morning.
“Do we really think and I say this sincerely, do we really think 17 year old’s on their own are going to plan a nationwide rally?”
Savannah’s own 6 time Congressman went on to say that organized groups are “taking charge” of the students to protest for their own benefit.
“I would say very clearly that organized groups like George Saros are always ready to take the charge and its kind of like instant rally instant protest. and those groups are ready to take it to the streets.”
Its a comment he doubled down on on Twitter:
On that same show, two Parkland students had their say about Kingston’s controversial words.
“I think its very despicable that he would even have the audacity to say that,” said Brandon Abzug. “Young people all across this country and the world feel that they have the power to make things right. Especially in the wake of a tragedy we really show who we really are. So to say just because we are young we can’t make a difference is not right, and he should apologize for that.”
Delaney Tarr says that despite people putting the movement down, the support has been overwhelming.
“We come from an affluent school, ” continued Delaney. “We are all very well educated on government and policy and we’ve been given this platform and it felt wrong not to take advantage of it and ultimately we know we are in a place where we can speak out, and try to make that difference and we are taking advantage of it.”
“It is a way of coping,” said Brandon. “The only way we are going to heal the only way we are going to feel better is knowing that no one else will have to go through what we are going through. Because while our innocence has been taken from us, others can still be protected.”
Kingston also pointed to an article in the Tallahassee Democrat which says that a Democratic Senator and former Florida Democratic party head spearheaded Tuesday’s rally at the Florida State Capitol and may have helped bus students into Tallahassee.
That article also points out that the Florida League of Women Voters, PTA and Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence were also some of the other organizers of today’s event.
News 3 contacted Kingston so he could clarify his comments to us.
He said he would “love” to, but said his contract with CNN does not allow him to talk to any other television station.
Kingston took to Twitter later on Tuesday to defend his claims, saying he knows the students taking part are genuine but says “it’s sad local gun control activists would hijack the tragedy to drive their own agenda.”
He included another USA Today article that reports rallies were being facilitated by Florida officials.