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Father of Parkland victim arrested at congressional hearing on guns

During a March 23 House Oversight Subcommittee hearing, Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Tex.) removed the parents of a Parkland shooting victim after interrupting him. (Video: U.S. House Oversight)
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Manuel Oliver, the father of Parkland, Fla., shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, was arrested Thursday in D.C. after disrupting a congressional hearing on gun regulations, said his wife, Patricia Oliver.

In a video of the hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building, a person can be heard shouting while the subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Tex.), was speaking about gun regulations.

Patricia Oliver yelled, according to videos of the incident, “You took my son away from me, and I’m not going anywhere! I’m going to listen to your absurd things.”

“Officer, please remove her,” Fallon said. “And remove the gentleman, too.”

As police escorted Manuel Oliver out, he yelled: “All of you are full of s---!”

Fallon continued with the hearing, and shouting could be heard again. Fallon joked: “Is this an insurrection? So will they be held to the same? I don’t want another January 6.”

Outside the hearing room, the video shows three officers surrounding and detaining Manuel Oliver while he is face down on the ground. “Get off of him!” someone can be heard yelling. Another yells, “What are you doing to this man? He is a grieving father!”

“We are using our First Amendment!” Patricia Oliver says to the officers.

A crowd of bystanders begins chanting, “He is not violent! He is not violent!” as officers remove Manuel Oliver from the scene, according to a video provided by Patricia Oliver.

Friday is the five-year anniversary of the first March for Our Lives, when hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered in the nation’s capital and cities across the country to demand action against gun violence.

Parents of victims, survivors and others affected by the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland — in which the attacker fatally shot 14 fellow students and three staff members — sparked a political movement demanding an end to school shootings and gun violence.

Since the shooting in Parkland, 143,000 students have been exposed to gun violence on K-12 campuses during regular hours, according to a database from The Washington Post. In 163 shootings during that time, 64 people were killed and 156 were wounded.

A U.S. Capitol Police spokesman said a man was arrested in the Rayburn building around noon for crowding, obstructing or incommoding, a common D.C. code cited when arresting demonstrators, “after he disrupted a hearing, refused to stop shouting, and then attempted to go back inside the hearing room.

“Anyone who disrupts a Congressional hearing and disregards a law enforcement officer’s orders to stop are going to be arrested,” according to the police statement. “This is a citation release arrest, which means the man was not put in jail. It should be noted that a woman who also disrupted the hearing was not arrested because she followed the lawful directions of our officers.”

Manuel Oliver said in an interview Thursday with The Post that he did not try to reenter the hearing room. Outside, he said, officers told him he would be arrested if he did not stop talking, an order he refused because he was speaking about his slain son.

“You can ask me anything, but don’t ask me to stop talking about my son,” said Manuel Oliver, who is attending a rally Friday marking the anniversary of March for Our Lives. “I refuse to go back to my life, because it will never be the same, and just pretend that this is not bothering me.”

Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), the first member of Gen Z elected to Congress, tweeted a video of Manuel Oliver on the floor, surrounded by police, and referred to him as a hero.

The Olivers say the pain of losing Joaquin has propelled them to advocate gun legislation that protects future generations.

Four years after the shooting, Manuel Oliver balanced on a construction crane near the White House, unfurled a sign with a photo of Joaquin and demanded a meeting with President Biden and policies to combat gun violence.

Manuel Oliver said he will always protest gun violence and advocate legislation such as an assault weapons ban.

“It’s very hard for me to find hope,” Manuel Oliver said. “I am reacting as a responsible father, and I will be Joaquin’s father until the last day I’m here.”

Patricia Oliver has called her son an old soul with “big thoughts” who also loved to be silly. She remembers cooking meals for the family and how her son would dance across the kitchen floor, pretending he was in the roller-skating scene from the movie “Xanadu.” He loved cheering on the Miami Heat, wrote poems and jokes, and liked to sing around the house.

“Because Joaquin’s not here, because of his death, you do anything, anything to bring justice,” Patricia Oliver said Thursday afternoon in an interview with The Post. “And to let people know that you don’t want to be in our shoes.”

Steven Rich contributed to this report.