Tonight’s PTA vigil: What it is and what it isn’t

Cindy Gerhardt is president of the Florida PTA. [PTA website]
Cindy Gerhardt is president of the Florida PTA. [PTA website]
Published Feb. 19, 2018|Updated Feb. 19, 2018
All around the state, the Florida PTA is organizing candlelight vigils this evening to remember the 17 students and adults killed Wednesday at Broward County’s Marjorie Stoneham Douglas High School.
Political? It shouldn’t be.
But the organization got some backlash after sending out an email this morning advertising the events. “You wouldn’t believe the vile responses we’re getting from elected officials,” said state president Cindy Gerhardt.
Critics accused PTA of capitalizing on the tragedy to pursue its agenda.
PTA’s response has been, “tonight we’re just going to be mourning victims and comforting the grieving.”
The truth is that PTA does have a platform on gun control.
From its website:
“The National National PTA supports federal restrictions on firearms that would require, prior to purchasing a firearm, a waiting period and background check to screen out illegal firearm purchasers such as convicted felons and drug-related offenders; outlaw military-style semi-automatic assault weapons; and require knowledge of appropriate firearms use and safety practices.
These and other positions align fairly closely with the “Never Again” movement now led by survivors of the massacre.
At the same time, Gerhardt, “we are nonpartisan. When it comes to one party or the other we are absolutely right in the middle of the aisle.”
So, at least on the part of the PTA, there will be no calling out of individual politicians.
While it is too early to say how much traction the student movement will get beyond Broward, Gerhardt said she believes that “this is the tipping point of the scale. I don’t believe we’re coming back from this without change.”
The events all begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted, at these locations:

Alachua County:

Alachua County Public School Offices – 620 E. University Ave., Gainesville, FL 32601

Broward County:

Glades Middle School – 16700 Bass Creek Road, Miramar, FL 32037

Crystal Lake Middle School – 3551 NE 3rd Ave, Pompano Beach, FL 33064

Horizon Elementary School – 2101 N. Pine Island Rd., Sunrise, FL 33322

Betti Stradling Park – 10301 Wiles Rd., Coral Springs, FL 33071

Duval County:

Duval Bethel Baptist Institutional Church – 215 Bethel Baptist Street Jacksonville, FL 32202

Escambia County:

East Brent Baptist Church – 4801 N. Davis Hwy., Pensacola, FL 32503

Hillsborough County:

Curtis Hixon Park – 600 N. Ashley Dr., Tampa, FL 33602

Indian River County:

Vero Beach High School Stadium – 1707 16th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960 – 6:45 pm arrival finish by 7:30 pm

Leon County:

School of Arts and Sciences at the Centre PTA – The Pavilion at the Centre of Tallahassee, 2415 N Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32303

Martin County:

Stuart Memorial Park – 300 SE Ocean Boulevard, Stuart, FL 34994

Miami-Dade County:

Coral Gables United Church of Christ – 3010 De Soto Blvd Coral Gables, FL 33134 – 2 PM

Hialeah Gardens Sr High School – 11700 Hialeah Gardens Blvd, Hialeah Gardens, FL 33018

The Bethel Church – 14440 Lincoln Blvd Miami, FL 33176

Devon Aire Park – 10411 SW 122 Avenue, Miami, FL 33186

Orange County:

Ronald Blocker Educational Leadership Center  – 445 W. Amelia Street, Orlando, FL 32801

Palm Beach County:

Libby Wesley Amphitheatre –  2 SW 5th Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444

Pasco County:

Sims Park – 6341 Bank St., New Port Richey, FL 34652

Land O Lakes Recreational Complex Pavilion – 3032 Collier Parkway, Land O Lakes, FL 34639

Wesley Chapel District Park Pavilion – 7727 Boyette Road, Wesley Chapel, FL 33554

Pinellas County:

Tarpon Springs High School – 6 pm – 1411 Gulf Rd., Tarpon Springs, FL 34689

Ponce de Leon Elementary – 8:40 am – 1301 Ponce DeLeon Blvd., Clearwater, FL 33756

Seminole County:

Winter Park Masonic Park – 1495 Grand Rd., Winter Park, FL 32792

Volusia County:

Sweet Marlay’s Coffee Shop – 214 S. Beach St. Daytona Beach 32114