May 26

Ivanka Trump says it’s ‘ridiculous’ that Serena Williams is being ‘penalized’ for her pregnancy

Al Bello/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Ivanka Trump is not happy about the way Serena Williams was treated in the lead up to the French Open.

The First Daughter came to the defense of the tennis star on social media on Thursday, writing that it was “ridiculous” that Williams was unseeded from the tennis tournament after having taken time off from the game to give birth to her daughter.

“This is ridiculous,” Trump wrote in a tweet Thursday. “@SerenaWilliams is a formidable athlete (best ever!) and loving new mother. No person should ever be penalized professionally for having a child! The #WTA should change this rule immediately. #FrenchOpen.”

Without being seeded, Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam winner who has won the French Open three times, could face highly-ranked opponents in the early rounds of the tournament.

She returned to the World Tennis Association tour in March after giving birth to her daughter, and has won twice and lost twice.

 Williams has not commented publicly about the seeding situation, but she hasn’t been laying low in recent weeks, either.

Last weekend, she was in England and attended the royal wedding – as she is a friend of the newly-minted Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

May 26

‘I get mad every time I watch it,’ NBA player says of video showing police using stun gun on him

Claus Andersen/Getty Images(MILWAUKEE) — NBA rookie Sterling Brown felt “defenseless” when police surrounded him in a parking lot, pulled him to the ground and tased him in an arrest for which the Milwaukee police chief apologized.

A day after police body camera video was released showing officers allegedly using excessive force on him over what was initially a parking violation, the 23-year-old Milwaukee Bucks’ player told “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts that he wants justice, not only for himself but for others who have experienced similar situations.

During the early morning hours on Jan. 26, Brown was parked illegally outside of a Walgreens drug store when he was approached by an officer wearing a body camera. “You don’t see the issue here? You’re not parked across three lanes?” the officer can be heard saying in the now-viral footage.

Brown said that he “initially didn’t see” the policeman until he “got right in front of the car” and was confronted by the officer.

“He told me to — get away from the car and all that,” Brown recalled. “And I’m asking … ‘What’s going on?’”

“I’m double parked,” he added. “But, you know … he called backup, and backup came.”

Six police vehicles soon arrived on the scene. “From there,” Brown told Roberts. “They surrounded me.”

In a police report of the incident, officers wrote that Brown was acting “very aggressive” and “physically resisted.” The video shows Brown standing calmly and attempting to comply with orders when officers swarmed him, forced him to the ground and used a stun gun on him in the drugstore parking lot in Milwaukee.

“I mean, everybody thought that … from the beginning, you know, thought I was combative, thought I was, you know, being aggressive,” Brown said.

He said watching the video and reliving the nightmare has only made him angry.

“I mean, I get mad every time I watch it, you know, ’cause I was defenseless, pretty much,” Brown told Roberts.

In the video, an officer repeatedly orders Brown to “back up,” before telling him “I will do what I want, alright? I own this right here.”

The officer accuses Brown of “being all badass with me” to which Brown replies “I ain’t got no problem.”

Other officers arrive on the scene and can be seen talking to Brown near his vehicle when one of the officers shouts for Brown to take his hands out of his pockets. Brown says that he has “stuff” in his pockets as several officers close in and take him to the ground. A scuffle ensues and an officer yells “Taser, Taser, Taser!” Brown can be heard moaning on the ground.

But Brown said the video doesn’t begin to show the frightening details he endured.

“The video shows no justice at what really happened,” Brown said. “Like, it’s a bodycam, it’s close, you can hear me screaming or what not. But anybody who’s been in that position knows how … how dirty it can get. So it’s … it’s tough every time I watch it.”

He recalled being “on the ground for about ten minutes.” Brown said that during that time, his thoughts were “How do I get home? How do I see my family?”

Physically, being tased “was a shock,” Brown said, adding that “you could hear it.”

“It came out of nowhere,” he recalled of the shock. “I tensed up instantly.”

He said he thinks it escalated so quickly because “they wanted to control the situation, they wanted to show their force, their power.”

He said he’s finally speaking out and pursuing legal action against the police department because he wants to send a message that what was done to him was not right.

“That’s why I’m … doing what I’m doing legally,” he said. “I’m here speaking to you, you know, just to draw attention to it and try to, you know, be that voice and try to help as many people as I can in this situation.”

“I mean whether I park illegally or not,” Brown said. “It shouldn’t have led to what it led to.”

“I could have just got a ticket, went home, paid however much money,” he added.

He said for a long time after the incident, he did not want what happened to him to be made public.

“I really didn’t want it to come out. I really didn’t want the video,” Brown said. “It’s just personal. Like, it’s personal business. You know, as I thought about it more … I mean I feel like why not? You know, why not be a voice for people who, you know, can’t say anything or can’t speak up for themselves?”

Brown was not charged with a crime as a result of the incident.

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said at a news conference held Wednesday that the officers involved “acted inappropriately” and were “recently disciplined.”

Morales did not detail what that discipline entailed and did not answer reporters’ questions.

“I am sorry this incident escalated to this level,” Morales said.

In a statement, the Milwaukee Police Association blamed the Brown incident on a “drastically understaffed” department. “Because officers are frequently mandated to work alone they are at greater risk to be compelled to use higher levels of force,” the statement reads. “Use of Force will never look pretty, but it is — unfortunately, a necessary component of policing. The cause or need for force is always dictated by the subject confronting the police officer.”

Brown said that instances similar to what happened to him, have been “happening for years, and people’s stories have not been told.”

For this reason, he feels it’s his “responsibility” to speak out.

Brown encouraged others to “keep fighting” and “bringing attention” to instances like this, and to keep “putting pressure” on those in authority so that one day things will “change.”

 

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May 26

Ireland overwhelmingly votes to repeal abortion ban, exit polls project

iStock/Thinkstock(DUBLIN) — Two major exit polls project that Irish voters have voted to repeal the country’s Eighth Amendment, passed by voters in 1983, which effectively bans abortions in the island nation.

One poll, by The Irish Times, projected 68 percent in favor of repealing. Another, by RTE, showed a similar projection of 69.4 percent in favor.

The results followed a contentious and emotional campaign in a deeply Catholic nation, home to one of the world’s strictest abortion bans.

Seeking or providing an abortion in Ireland was a criminal offense that carries up to 14 years behind bars. As a result, thousands of Irish women make the trip abroad, often to England, to have an abortion.

More than 170,000 women traveled from the Republic of Ireland to access abortion services in another country between 1980 and 2016, according to the Irish Family Planning Association.

As the vote date approached, the debate between the two sides had grown deeply contentious, which, in part, motivated a lot of Irish ex-patriots to fly home from around the globe to cast their ballots — many posting their positions on social media beside the hashtag #HomeToVote.

Repealing the amendment means that abortion could be regulated as it is in both the United States and the United Kingdom, clearing the way for Ireland’s government to implement more liberal abortion laws. Lawmakers are now expected to debate proposed legislation allowing abortions within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and after that in cases of fetal abnormalities or serious risks to the mother’s health.

The vote pitted conservative backers of strict abortion restrictions against those supporting a woman’s right to choose.

The Yes campaign was supported by Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, though neither of the largest political parties took a side in the debate, allowing individual politicians to make up their own minds. The No side was largely backed by so-called pro-life groups — the most prominent being The Iona Institute, a socially conservative Roman Catholic advocacy group.

As the vote date approached, the battle between the two sides grew increasingly vicious, with both Yes and No campaigns being accused of illegal removing each other’s street posters.

The heated, emotional campaign saw limits placed on social media advertisements nationwide, with Facebook and Google banning campaign ads after concerns from experts that some campaign ads were funded by U.S. based anti-abortion groups.

Following a 2015 vote, Ireland legalized same-sex marriage.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

May 26

Macron tries to woo Putin during state visit

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images(ST. PETERSBURG, Russia) — France’s president Emmanuel Macron on Friday used a state visit to Russia to mount an energetic charm offensive on President Vladimir Putin.

The two leaders rubbed elbows in a series of appearances at an economic forum in Saint Petersburg, but repeatedly stumbled on some of the stark disagreements that have set Russia and Western countries at odds with one another.

Macron has said the trip is intended as an attempt to refresh relations between Russia and Europe that have been sinking steadily into tensions reminiscent of the Cold War, fuelled by clashes over the Ukraine crisis, Russia’s role in Syria and most recently the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain.

For some, Macron’s trip was a reprise of his visit to the White House in April where his delicate handling of President Donald Trump prompted some commentators to call him “the Trump whisperer”.

On his trip to Russia, Macron turned his efforts to Putin. He was studiously respectful of Putin, filling his speeches with references to Russian culture and nods to Putin’s personal history. Throughout the trip, the two have referred to one another as “Cher Vladimir” and “Dear Emmanuel”.

In a speech on stage with Macron told an audience that he was convinced “Russia has its history and its destiny in Europe” and urged Putin to embrace it.

“I am ready,” Macron told Putin. “The window of opportunity exists, it is now, and if we don’t take it, it can close again.”

The Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal last month for some observers has created an unusual moment for Europe and Russia to try to make a return to more normal relations. France, along with the UK, Germany, and China, shares Russia’s desire to preserve the Iran deal and the countries have said they are seeking was to mitigate the impact of American sanctions that will now be re-imposed.

Against that backdrop, Macron found himself praising the merits of multilateral diplomacy to Putin. Macron, who has presented himself as a straight-talker and muscular liberal, urged Putin to play by the rules of an international order based on cooperation, but couched it in terms meant to appeal to the Russian leader.

“We all know your taste for judo, dear Vladimir — it is based on mastery of one’s own strength and respect for one’s opponent,” Macron said, referring to Putin’s well-known passion for the martial art (he is a black-belt). “Let us emulate these principles in the international arena. Let us play a co-operative game, a joint game,” he said, saying his favorite game was soccer.

For his part, Putin seemed at turns pleased, but also amused and skeptical of his guest, treating him as precocious. His use of “Dear Emmanuel” at times appeared tongue-in-cheek. After Macron’s comments about judo, Putin responded: “Such a situation in the world has come about, that everyone is playing soccer, while applying the rules of judo. It’s neither soccer, nor judo. It’s just chaos.”

But even as Macron sought to improve relations with Putin, one of the conflicts behind the tension in Russia and Western relations intervened. The Netherlands and Australia announced they hold Russia responsible for the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, that killed 298 people. A day earlier, a Dutch-led four-year long international investigation found that the missile used to bring down the airliner belonged to a Russian anti-aircraft brigade.

The Netherlands and Australia, whose citizens made up the largest number of the dead, urged Russia to accept responsibility and warned they might try to hold Russia accountable in an international court. The call was backed by the U.S. and Britain.

Russia previously has denied any role in the shooting down, despite mounting evidence from the Dutch-led investigation and independent researchers that it had been a Russian missile, fired by pro-Russian separatists who mistook the airliner for a Ukrainian military plane. On Friday, the independent research group, Bellingcat, that has unearthed considerably evidence around MH17 from open source materials, claimed to have identified a Russian intelligence officer as a key person of interest.

On stage with Putin, Macron urged him to accept responsibility for the shooting down. But Putin again flatly rejected the missile was Russian and said Moscow would not accept the investigation since it had not been included in it.

The exchange underlined the limits of what Macron’s outreach is likely to produce. His critics have already pointed out that his supposed deft touch with Trump yielded no result, with Trump nonetheless withdrawing from the Iran deal despite Macron’s efforts to dissuade him.

At the forum in St. Petersburg, which gathers virtually all of Russia’s business and political elite, much of the focus was on France’s strong economic relations with Russia in spite of the European Union and U.S. sanctions that were imposed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014. With Macron’s presence many Russian and French executives speaking at the forum spoke hopefully of a waning impact from the sanctions and a desire for a return to business as usual.

But following the conference though, there was little sign much would shift around the sanctions. At a news conference, Macron reiterated that France would not remove its sanctions on Russia unless there was progress on the Ukraine conflict.

“The ball is in the camp of Russia and Ukraine,” Macron said, according to Reuters. “It’s as simple as that. We won’t lift the sanctions if nothing’s done. That’s what we discussed with Vladimir Putin.”

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May 26

How a Norwegian sound festival puts experimental music at the forefront

Sarah Hucal/ABC News(OSLO, Norway) — On a warm spring evening in Oslo, a series of brass notes — some electrifying, others solemn — are played by a dozen instrumentalists perched in various corners of the multi-story entryway of the Sentralen, a former savings bank turned cultural center.

The performance is part of the two-day experimental music Connect Festival of Sound, which takes concert-goers on a sonic journey through the building’s most unique rooms, including a former vault and an opulent marble hall.

The festival – which features instrumental ensembles, sound and video installations and electronic music – is one of several events put on by the country’s nyMusikk, an organization that promotes experimental music and sound art.

Like many such organizations, it primarily relies on grants from the Norwegian government to operate.

The festival is emblematic of the country’s emphasis on providing artistic experimentation as a public service.

“You can say that we rely on government funding or you can say that the society we have here relies on us to produce very artistic content,” said Artistic Director Bjørnar Habbestad. “There’s a long tradition in our society of setting up mechanisms that ensure these kinds of activities.”

Federal funding for the arts has become practically non-existent in the United States, where even large cultural entities struggle to stay afloat.

Last year’s federal budget under U.S. President Donald Trump called for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, making Trump the first president in history to propose eliminating all funding for the nation’s federal cultural agencies.

In Norway, the national cultural budget is roughly 1.3 billion dollars, according to the Norwegian Arts Council.

Norway’s government arts funding model has created a diverse cultural landscape where artists can feel free to experiment.

“With the government funding, you don’t feel like you’re on a leash – you have room to experiment and create what you want,” said musician and composer Stephan Meidell.

Such hard-earned grants have allowed him to have a career in his field.

At the festival, Meidell, along with Berlin-based film company Blank Blank, presented a sound and video installation featuring robotic instruments that create a work of art based on the notes played.

The performance, like others at the festival, dares audiences to experience something new. Other examples include an installation that explores the limits of extreme sound and lasers, by Baltimore-based artist Jeff Carey, and pop-influenced works by jazz ensemble Skrap IV.

However, since Norway’s conservative government took office in 2013, there has been a shift in cultural policy, and in some cases an emphasis on economizing the arts by supporting projects that are more in line with the nation’s business goals — a worrying prospect for many experimental artists who rely on existing funding.

Habbestad said that it has become more difficult to secure long-term project grants and the necessary means for new projects in recent years.

Policy in the US, he said, could also play a role in future government grants in Norway.

“What is observable in American politics and media today also affects how we talk about things in Norway today. Norwegian politicians change the climate for discussions —and not necessarily for the better.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

May 26

Brazilian grandparents convicted in high-profile Texas kidnapping case

iStock/Thinkstock(SAO PAULO) — A federal jury in Texas on Friday found a Brazilian couple guilty of helping their daughter kidnap a Houston doctor’s son and take him to Brazil, where the child remains, but declined to convict them of a related conspiracy charge.

The split verdict came five years into Houston doctor Chris Brann’s campaign to retrieve his son Nicolas, now 8, from Brazil, where his ex-wife Marcella Guimaraes took him for a temporary trip in July, 2013 and failed to return.

The child’s Brazilian grandparents, Carlos Otavio Guimaraes and Jemima Guimaraes, sat in stunned silence as federal judge announced the verdict, following three and a half days of jury deliberations.

With Brann’s permission, their daughter took Nicolas, known as “Nico,” to Brazil for a 2013 family wedding and refused to return. She successfully petitioned a Brazilian court that year to grant her sole custody, and enrolled her son in a local Brazilian school.

Brann has said he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in an effort to get his son back, and has sought the help of the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Hague Abduction Convention – a 1988 international agreement that seeks to facilitate the return of children removed in violation of custody agreements from their “habitual residences.”

Both the U.S. and Brazil are signatories to that agreement, but in a 2017 report, the State Department said that Brazilian “judicial authorities…persistently failed to regularly implement and comply with the provisions of the Convention.”

Last year, federal prosecutors in Texas filed a criminal complaint seeking the arrests of the grandparents and their daughter, and earlier this year the grandparents were arrested when they arrived at a Miami, Florida airport to attend the birthday party of a different grandchild.

Like his daughter Marcella, Carlos Guimareas is a dual Brazilian-American citizen and holds two passports. He and his wife surrendered their passports to U.S. authorities during an earlier bond hearing.

Marcella Guimareas – who could not immediately be reached for comment – and Nicolas have remained in Brazil, out of reach of U.S. authorities, since 2013.

Brann told ABC News on Friday that he had mixed emotions about the verdicts.

“I never wanted it to come to this and the only thing I want is for my son to come home,” he said. “I hope they will take responsibility for their actions and do everything they can do have him come home as soon as possible.”

The convicted couple will remain under house arrest at the Houston home of their son, Roberto Guimaraes, pending sentencing. They face up to three years in prison.

In a separate statement issued after the split verdict, Brann said that “this is an incredibly sad day for me” and vowed to advocate for a lenient sentence for the grandparents if his son is immediately returned to the U.S.

“Despite all the cruelty they have heaped on my extraordinary son Nico, by obstructing his relationship with me, Nico remains my sole concern.

“If my ex-wife Marcelle returns with Nico to the United States immediately, I will happily appear at the Guimarães’ sentencing hearing to advocate maximum leniency.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

May 26

‘Pain au chocolat’ vs ‘chocolatine’: Pastry-name war heading to French Parliament

iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) — Should one of the best known French pastries be called chocolatine or pain au chocolat? This is a debate that has been going on for decades in France. A group of right-wing French MPs are bringing the question to the French National Assembly as they are fighting to promote the term chocolatine.

A vast majority of French people, as well as tourists visiting the country, use the word “pain au chocolat” when ordering the French puff pastry with chocolate inside. But in the southwest region of France, people call it ‘chocolatine’ and see it as a source of regional pride.

A group of 10 French Parliament members are proposing an amendment giving official status to chocolatine.

The change would “give value to the customary name and fame of a product,” the proposed amendment says. “This would, for example, be the case for the chocolate pastry whose name has historically been rooted in the Gascon region, and which is the pride of all southwestern France: the chocolatine.”

The debate has been trending on social media in France, with some commentators mocking the amendment, saying French MPs probably have more urgent topics to discuss than the question of the appellation of a pastry. Other joked about the ongoing debate, with one writing: “I respect chocolatine and pain au chocolat: THEY HAVE THE SAME TASTE!”

This amendment is to be discussed at the French National Assembly by May 30. According to Jean-Baptiste Moreau, member of President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party, it has “little chance” of being adopted. It will compete for debating time with more pressing issues such as banning pesticides and introducing cameras into abattoirs to prevent animal mistreatment.

The semantic battle over the name of the pastry might very well continue to divide France.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

May 26

South Koreans expect US-North Korea summit to take place ‘eventually’ despite cancellation

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) — Many South Koreans were shocked when President Trump called off the June 12 summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Many also believe the historic summit could still happen.

“Eventually, Kim Jong Un has no other choice but to come and meet Trump,” Kenneth Choi, an international editor for a South Korean newspaper Chosun-ilbo, told ABC News. “President Trump left a little opening door [for the meeting] at the end of his letter.”

Kim Ye-jin, who participates in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in Chung-ang University, said, “Although the meeting was put off, I still think there is hope for peace.”

Paul Lee, a former youth organizer, said Kim wants the meeting because “he needs to seek legitimacy.”

“This would be a great loss for [North Korea] to suddenly quit the summit,” he added.

Some pointed out that Trump’s way of abruptly calling off the summit went too far.

“It was like Trump canceling a dinner reservation,” Kim Sung-min, who represents a group of progressive and liberal university students, told ABC News. “One-way cancellation of a summit between the leaders of two countries seemed like an irresponsible act to me.”

Freelance reporter Youn Sang-un said he was surprised by North Korea’s response.

“You never expect that soft stance from the dictatorship regime,” he said.

In a statement, Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea’s vice minister of foreign affairs, said his country feels great regret for the unexpected cancellation and that he and other government officials would still like to meet with U.S. representatives “any time.”

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May 26

3 in stable condition after IED detonated at restaurant

iStock/Thinkstock(TORONTO) — Three people earlier listed in critical condition after an explosion a restaurant in Canada have been upgraded to stable condition, authorities confirmed to ABC News.

At least 15 people were hurt around 10:30 p.m. local time when an improvised explosive device was detonated at Bombay Bhel Indian, according to authorities in Mississauga, a city immediately southwest of Toronto.

The three severely injured individuals were taken to a trauma center in Toronto, police said.

Peel Regional Police said they’re still currently looking for two male suspects who fled the scene.

One suspect was described as 5-foot-10 to 6-feet tall, stocky, mid-20s, light skin and he was wearing blue jeans, a dark zip-up hoodie and a baseball cap. His face was covered with a black cloth.

The other suspect was described as 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-10, fair skin, thin and he was wearing faded blue jeans, a dark zip-up hoodie, a gray T-shirt and dark-colored skate shoes. His face was covered.

The investigation is ongoing and, at this time, the attack is not being treated as terrorism or a hate crime, police said.

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May 26

Santa Fe school shooting survivors discuss solutions to make schools safer: ‘Inaction is not an option’

KTRK(SANTA FE, Texas) — Survivors of the Santa Fe High School shooting held a press conference Friday in which they detailed what they believe needs to be done to ensure safety in schools and other public places.

The students, many of whom participated in the March for Our Lives rally in response to the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, appeared alongside several members March for Our Lives Houston chapter.

Santa Fe High School junior Megan McGuire told reporters that her goal is to prevent another community from having to endure the same tragedy they are currently going through. McGuire referenced the Sandy Hook and Parkland shootings before touching on the tragedy that recently struck her hometown.

“The truth is that, whatever we are doing as a society, or not doing, is not working,” she said. “Inaction is not an option. We must do something, and we must do it right.”

The students agreed that school safety is a complex issue but introduced solutions that could contribute to a safer society overall.

Striving for gun safety

McGuire and Santa Fe High School senior Bree Butler both emphasized that they’re not trying to take guns away from citizens, acknowledging that they are strong proponents for the Second Amendment and that their fathers are gun owners themselves.

“When I say gun safety, I don’t mean take away responsible owner’s guns,” McGuire said.

McGuire said she simply wants to see “common-sense solutions” put into place to “keep those who wish to harm themselves or others from obtaining guns.”

The students want to create a law in the state of Texas for owners to lock up their guns responsibly, so that they do not fall into the hands of children or those who are not mature enough to handle them.

In addition, the students believe it should be the law to report when guns are stolen or go missing and that mental health evaluations and background checks — for not only the gun owner but his or her family as well — should be required when purchasing a gun.

Kennedy Rodriguez, a senior at Santa Fe High School, said that if the government is able to regulate cars, which can also kill people when used improperly, “We can have laws and regulations about guns.”

“Vote … it’s the most important thing you can do.”

The students recently traveled to Austin, the capital of Texas, to speak to lawmakers about a bill they are drafting that would turn the suggestions they discussed into law.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other politicians were “very receptive” at what the students had to say, Butler said.

Marcel McClinton, a representative for March for Our Lives Houston, said it’s “important to note” that the bill speaks to rural, conservative communities in Texas where gun ownership is prominent among citizens.

If the bill is signed into law, it “can make sure that nobody goes through the pain and suffering that we are going through right now,” Butler said, instructing citizens to vote out out the lawmakers who “do not believe in this.”

“Vote … it’s the most important thing you can do,” she said, vowing to “make a change.”

McGuire had a message for politicians who believe they can skirt around the issue and “think that doing nothing is acceptable.”

“My thought is that, if you do not do something, you do not have a prayer of being elected,” she said. “My generation will see to that.”

‘We’ve all been bullied’

On the morning of May 18, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis allegedly opened fire into multiple classroom, killing eight students and two teachers.

Pagourtzis’ father, Antonios Pagourtzis, likened his son to a victim himself, describing him as a “good boy” who was “bullied at school” in an interview on Monday. Dimitrios Pagourtzis’ attorney, Nick Poehl, also told ABC News on Monday that students had informed him that Pagourtzis had been bullied.

The students mostly declined to answer questions about the alleged gunman or the lawsuit filed against the Pagourtzis family, but they were adamant in saying that bullying is not an excuse to shoot up a school.

“We’ve all been bullied,” Butler said, adding that she herself experienced a “really rough” period of bullying in eighth grade.

While Butler said it’s essential to “be nice to everyone around you no matter what,” she emphasized that, in the context of the shooting at her school, “This is a mental health issue.”

“Everybody that’s bullied doesn’t shoot a school,” she said. “This shouldn’t be, ‘Oh, he was bullied. He’s a victim.’ He made victims.”

McGuire said that, without speaking on behalf of the alleged gunman, “Bullying is not an excuse, at all.”

Returning to the scene

Classes at Santa Fe High School will resume on Tuesday, and the students are looking forward to resuming their routine and seeing their friends and teachers, they said.

Butler said seniors were given the option to not return, but she has made the decision to go so she can have closure.

“I don’t want that day to be the last day I ever set foot in my high school,” she said. “But, also, I’m worried. I’m kind of scared.”

McGuire said she’s worried about her safety when she returns on Tuesday and for her senior year in the fall.

“It will be a very emotional process,” she said. “I’m glad I get to see my teachers and friends at the school. It’s been very hard to see them and talk to them in a way that isn’t rushed.”

The students suggested that metal detectors, more school resource officers and having a licensed therapist on campus — rather than just counselors who are trained mainly to help students get into college — could contribute to a safer school environment.

McClinton described the Santa Fe students as “inspirational, dedicated and passionate leaders” who are destined to “create change.”

“Change is coming,” McClinton said. “Children are dying.”

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