Parkland Mass Shooting Survivors, Mark Hamill Target Steve King

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@Emma4Change/Twitter, @HamillHimself/Twitter

Ever since survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting massacre in mid-February began demanding stronger gun laws in America, Steve King’s congressional campaign staffers — likely members of his own family — have been posting memes on Facebook mocking the students for their efforts. Here are some examples dating back to March 2:

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Despite this bizarre and persistent behavior from the official re-election campaign page of a sitting member of Congress, the posts attracted virtually no media attention until last Sunday, the day after protesters across Iowa and the United States took part in the March for Our Lives supporting gun law reform, when King’s campaign page mocked Parkland student and now outspoken gun control activist Emma Gonzalez for her Cuban heritage:

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In response to a comment expressing outrage for the post, a King staffer showed the congressman’s trademark cockiness that he’s also shown by almost never even mentioning any of his recent Democratic challengers. After responding to the comment by disparaging “lefties,” the staffer added, “P.S. Congressman King will win re-election in a landslide.”

But this wasn’t just any commenter: It was Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orland that left 49 dead. “Are you SERIOUSLY mocking a school shooting survivor for her ethnic identity?!” Wolf had posted. “Do you losers have NOTHING else to do anymore? Have you lost the will to govern? Do you need a safe space from these teenagers? When it was my community, where were you? When it was Sandy Hook? Columbine? Were you on the sideline mocking those communities too? Did you question someone identifying as a mother? Did you question whether people like me were crisis actors?”

He added, referring to Gonzalez’s appearance at the March for Our Lives protest in Washington, DC: “Emma stood for 6 mins and 20 seconds to honor the lives of 17 gone too soon. The least you could do is shut your privileged, ineffective trap for 6 seconds to hear someone else’s perspective.”

Since then, the post on King’s Facebook page has attracted national media attention and widespread condemnation, including from the Parkland survivors, who are encouraging people to confront lawmakers about gun reform at town hall meetings, which include a “pizza & policy” event King has scheduled Thursday in Sioux Center. They also called the congressman out on Twitter over the Facebook post:

King’s three potential Democratic challengers who qualified for the June primary ballot have also been eager to criticize his campaign’s mockey of the student. Spencer businesswoman Leann Jacobsen drew attention to a House ethics complaint filed “for his racist attack against Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez” by the Democratic Coalition co-founder Scott Dworkin, who added: “We also uncovered tens of thousands in campaign payments & reimbursements to members of King’s family. We included that in the complaint.”

John Paschen, an Ames pediatrician who will appear Tuesday, Feb. 3* at an event Tuesday evening at downtown bar London Underground, has reached out to Parkland survivors on Twitter and noting the increased attention and fundraising success King’s remarks have drawn to the rival’s campaign:

And Sioux City paralegal J.D. Scholten, the apparent frontrunner in the Democratic primary, today received the endorsement of Mark Hamill, who took on his Luke Skywalker alter ego to liken Scholten to a Jedi going up against the Galactic Empire:


* Correction: This article initially said that the London Underground Postcards and Pints event with John Paschen had already happened. It will be held Tuesday, Feb. 3, at 5:30 p.m.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.