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Parkland school shooting one year later: Emma Gonzalez criticizes Steve King at summer Sioux City rally

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SIOUX CITY -- Emma Gonzalez got an hours-long look at the hallway outside the downtown office of U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, but didn't get to discuss gun control policy with his staff members.

Gonzalez was one of several survivors of a high-profile school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who came to Sioux City on Wednesday with the Road To Change Tour.

In the morning, about 150 people gathered at North High School to discuss ways to elect new officeholders in order to advance gun control legislation. Then, Gonzalez was among 100 who went to the downtown Federal Courthouse holding King's congressional office.

Parkland shooting survivors tour

Parkland shooting survivor Cameron Kasky, center, and other youth protest against U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-IA and against gun violence in front of the Federal Building in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. The protest was part of a national bus tour that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors held to give young people a chance to speak out against gun violence and to encourage political activism. On Feb. 14, Nikolas Cruz, 19, used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to kill 17 students and staff members at the Parkland, Florida, school. Sioux City Journal photo by Tim Hynds

One Parkland student, Cameron Kasky, led off the boisterous protest on the sidewalk along Fifth Street. Kasky contended the $11,000 King has taken in campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association makes him beholden to that lobby.

"Steve King is a scary, scary racist who doesn't care if kids get shot," Kasky said.

Gonzalez, who has been involved in a war of words with supporters of King and his own campaign office, followed Kasky. In a Facebook post written in March, King mocked Gonzalez, who is of Cuban heritage, for wearing a Cuban flag patch on her jacket as she spoke at the March For Our Lives rally in Washington in March.

In the weeks since that time, Gonzalez has had an increasing national profile for her outspoken stances in discussing policymakers and gun laws.

When she spoke Wednesday, Gonzalez read the names of teens who have been killed in school shootings. She said 96 people die every day from gun violence in the U.S., so "we must come together to save lives and end gun violence."

She then referenced King, saying, "He called me a Communist, because my family is from Cuba."

Among the March Facebook post comments and replies, a person on King's team wrote, “Pointing out the irony of someone wearing the flag of a Communist country while simultaneously calling for gun control isn’t ‘picking’ on anyone."

The rally participants sought to speak with people in King's office inside the building. Kasky said he was asked to leave the office, but shared that a representative politely said she would hear views of people, two at time inside the office. However, Kasky and rally participant Matt Deitsch, of Florida, said that changed and people were shortly thereafter locked out of the office.

At 4 p.m., Gonzalez and 20 other people were seen waiting in the hall outside King's office, where they had been for more than an hour. She declined to give an interview, saying she was busy "making friends" with the people sitting on the floor. The group remained there until 5 p.m., when the building was closed for the day.

Deitsch said it was unfortunate that King's team can ridicule Gonzalez but not hold a policy discussion on guns with her.

Earlier this year, Leslie Gibson, a Republican candidate for office in Maine, called Gonzalez a “skinhead lesbian." A speaker at the North High event erroneously said that statement came from King.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to kill 17 students and staff members at Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. The Parkland survivors have used social media to air views, appeared on news shows and participated with the Road To Change Tour that is making Midwest stops through June 29.

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