In New York’s Times Square today, artist Manuel Oliver unveiled what he calls the world’s first "3D-printed activist," a life-size rendition of his son, Joaquin. Oliver said the piece is a statement to combat the use of 3D printers to make firearms.
Joaquin was one of the victims in the Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen students and faculty were killed that day when a former student allegedly opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle.
After his death, Joaquin’s parents, Manuel and Patricia, founded the nonprofit “Change the Ref” to empower young people to get involved in issues impacting the country. In an interview with ABC News, Manuel said the nonprofit’s name came from a conversation he had with Joaquin a few months before he was shot.
Joaquin had been frustrated with a series of bad calls a referee made during a basketball game. This inspired Joaquin and his father to call the recreational league to ask to have the referee switched for someone who would judge the game more fairly. Since his son's death, Manuel and Patricia have extended that ideology beyond the basketball court.
"This is the first time since February that I can see an image of my son standing next to me. Not a good feeling, but the idea here is to make it a powerful moment for the rest of you," Manuel said at the event today.
Manuel went on to say that even though he and his wife can't do anything to bring their son back, their work is "for the rest of the families who can still do something about it."
This installation was a statement against gun violence and to encourage voter turnout for the November midterm elections.