National Roundup

Parkland shooting survivors hit the road, target youth vote

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — A group of survivors from the 2018 Florida high school massacre is hitting the road to help register young voters across the country before the November election, seeking to bring about their vision for gun reform.

The student group March For Our Lives will visit nine states starting Monday, including Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Texas and Georgia, creating on-the-ground art exhibitions that will parallel digital rallies all aimed at capturing the elusive, hard to engage youth vote. Their first stop is in Miami.

Each stop will feature public art exhibits to raise awareness on issues that intersect with their mission for gun violence prevention, including racial injustice, immigration, health care and economic inequality.

The group was founded by David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Jaclyn Corin and several other students after the 2018 Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 dead.
Since then, the student group has rallied hundreds of thousands around the country for tighter gun laws, including a nationally televised march in Washington, D.C, that landed on the cover of Time magazine and received the International Children’s Peace Prize from Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

March For Our Lives is partnering with organizations including Dream Defenders, United We Dream, Sunrise Movement and International Indigenous Youth Council.

Former student sues school district after mass shooting

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — A former student at a high school in Washington state who survived a school shooting is suing the district for what she claims was a preventable attack.

The mass shooting killed four students and the gunman in 2014.

Carmen Lopez, 20, filed the lawsuit last Friday in Snohomish County Superior Court. She said in her lawsuit that she has since suffered life-altering emotional trauma and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident. She was not physically harmed during the shooting.

Marysville School District spokesperson Jodi Runyon said the district could not comment on pending litigation, The Daily Herald reported.

Jaylen Fryberg opened fire on students in the Marysville Pilchuck High School cafeteria, a school located about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Seattle.

Students Zoe Galasso, Gia Soriano, Shaylee Chuckulnaskit and Andrew Fryberg died in the gunfire, and another student, Nate Hatch, survived a gunshot wound to the jaw. Fryberg died by suicide afterwards.

Lopez said that she was sitting at the same table as the victims and Fryberg when the shooting began. She said she was fortunate because he began by shooting those sitting across from him while she was sitting beside him. As the shooting began, Lopez dropped to the ground then ran away.

The lawsuit claims the shooting was preventable because the school allegedly knew two days before that it would happen. Lopez alleges Fryberg had a pattern of worrisome behavior that should have alerted faculty members that he would “engage in behaviors either deleterious to himself or others, including his fellow students at the high school.”

The lawsuit appears to share aspects with one brought by the families of the students who died or were injured in the shooting. The district settled that case in 2017 for $18 million.

Plaintiffs in that case relied on the evolving story of a substitute teacher who claimed she had advanced warning about a potential shooting.

The teacher told investigators she had shared the information with school staff. Detectives ultimately could find no merit to the story.

The new lawsuit does not reference the substitute teacher, nor does it identify how the school knew beforehand that the shooting would take place.

Trump campaign’s election lawsuit  halted by judge

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Sunday put a high-profile election case on hold, telling President Donald Trump’s campaign that its claims must wait, at least until October, for state courts in the presidential battleground to clear up crucial fights, including over collecting and counting mail-in ballots.

U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan put the case on hold until Oct. 5 to see whether state courts decide, or at least narrow, the issues raised by Trump’s campaign and the national Republican Party.

Opponents had argued that Ranjan should dismiss the case under a U.S. Supreme Court precedent that matters of state law should be left to state courts to interpret.

“At its heart, the Trump campaign’s lawsuit is an attempt to make it more difficult for people in Pennsylvania to vote safely during the pandemic,” said Witold J. Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which along with election officials across Pennsylvania is a party to the case. “We and our clients want to be sure that every eligible voter has the chance to vote safely in this election, whether they vote by mail or in person at the polls.”

In its lawsuit, filed in June, Trump’s campaign claims the state’s election officials had “chosen a path that jeopardizes election security and will lead — and has already led — to the disenfranchisement of voters, questions about the accuracy of election results, and ultimately chaos” ahead of the Nov. 3 general election.

“The federal court is simply going to reserve its judgment on this in the hopes that the state court will resolve these serious issues and guarantee that every Pennsylvanian has their vote counted—once,” Justin Clark, a Trump campaign deputy campaign manager, said in a statement.

After Oct. 5, parties can ask Ranjan to resume claims in the case.

Ranjan is a Trump appointee. State courts, where Democrats hold a 5-2 majority on the state Supreme Court, could be less friendly territory for Trump’s campaign.

One claim in Trump’s lawsuit, filed in June, seeks to outlaw drop boxes or other collection sites that some counties used in the June 2 primary to help gather a record-smashing number of mail-in ballots. Those drop boxes were used especially by Philadelphia and its heavily populated suburbs in the primary — places where Trump lost badly.

Trump’s campaign also wants to stop counties from counting ballots that lack secrecy envelopes — Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration advised counties to count them — and it also wants to throw out a state law that restricts poll watchers to county residents.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party filed a lawsuit in state courts that takes the opposite position on those issues. Last week, Wolf’s administration, in a nod to the urgency of the matter, asked the state Supreme Court to use its extraordinary authority to take over the lawsuit.