A grieving father is channelling his pain and heartbreak into inspiring artwork.
Manuel Oliver lost his son, Joaquin, in the February mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The tragedy prompted worldwide concern over gun control laws in America, and how to keep students safe at school.
As a professional artist, Oliver knew he had to do something to keep his son’s spirit alive, while at the same time pushing for change so other parents don’t have to go through his same pain. He and his wife Patricia founded a non-profit in honor of their son, whose senseless death will never be forgotten. Oliver has taken to traveling around the country to paint murals promoting anti-gun violence.
He stopped in Queens this past weekend, a visit that stirred up memories considering Joaquin loved New York. Oliver included images of his son in his mural that now decorates Roy Wilkins Park in Jamaica. As part of his “Walls of Demand” project, Oliver aims to trigger people to think about the need for change and less gun violence in our country.
Oliver has completed eight murals across the country so far, including in major cities like Miami and Los Angeles. His goal is to ensure Americans are using the second amendment appropriately and safely, without reckless regard for the safety and security of our children and students.
The Oliver’s non-profit, Change The Ref, uses urban art as a means of inspiration and to “expose the disastrous effects of the mass shooting pandemic,” according to its website.
You can visit the beautiful mural at Roy Wilkins Park, located at 177th Street and Baisley Boulevard. The painting reflects the need for an express line to positive change and a brighter future.
Learn more about the “Walls of Demand” project here.
Photo: Change The Ref