One Florida school shooting survivor clapped back at alt-right conspiracy theorists who have painted students as “crisis actors” following the deadly tragedy last week.
Rachel Catania is one of many Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who traveled to Tallahassee, Florida to meet with lawmakers after a former classmate opened fire on their school on Feb. 14, killing 17 people.
While she and her classmates were visiting the state capital, students across the state held campus walkouts to stand in solidarity with the survivors and their calls for action to increase school safety.
Catania spoke to CNN hosts on Wednesday to express her gratitude to students who stand with her and her classmates, and to slam those who think they aren’t telling the truth.
“Rachel, what do you say to those people, those conspiracy theorists, out there who say that you're an actor or say that you're being put up to this by liberal lawmakers?” host John Berman asked the student on air. “Is anyone forcing you to come on TV and talk right now?”
“No, not at all. I'm not getting paid for this,” Catania replied. “I want to come out here on behalf of my city and my town and just spread the message on behalf of those who can't. And I'm going to make sure that those 17 innocent people who had their lives taken from them did not die for no reason.”
She continued to address theories that she and other students were “actors” paid to travel to crisis sites to promote gun reform and bash President Donald Trump.
“No one's paying me to do this. I'm not a crisis actor. I'm not even sure those are real. No, they're not real,” she said.
As Catania spoke, the outlet showed live video footage of a sea of students from local schools who hosted walkouts to support Stoneman Douglas students.
Some schools on Tuesday organized walks to the Stonemason Douglas campus — traveling up to seven miles — to offer their support. Others hosted walkouts on Wednesday to show their support for students visiting the capital to promote change.
While Catania admitted that social media tributes to the school may have faded in the week following the mass shooting, she and her classmates have pledged that they will continue to fight for safer schools across the country.
“This is not gonna fade… a change will happen. No matter how long it takes, a change will happen,” she said.
Catania and her classmates traveled on Tuesday attend around 70 meetings with lawmakers, including President Trump, at the state capital.
While some were traveling, other students witnessed on Tuesday the rejection of a proposal banning some automatic weapons in Florida by the state’s House of Representatives. The proposal was crafted after 19-year-old confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz opened fire on Stoneman Douglas students using an AR-15 rifle, but it failed to pass in the Republican-led House.