For more than 2 years now, Manuel and Patricia Oliver, the parents of Joaquin Oliver, have been fighting gun violence and trying to change gun laws.
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The Olivers teamed up with artists for “The Unfinished Votes” campaign launch film which uses artificial intelligence to bring their son back to life digitally to ask people to “finish” the vote he was never able to cast.
“Every day nearly one hundred more families lose someone they love to gun violence. Every single day. We keep telling people it doesn’t have to be like this. They don’t listen. So we found a way to bring back someone that no one will ignore,” Manuel Oliver says at the beginning of the video.
In the video, the Olivers, alongside their late son, recruit voters to replace the ballots of gun violence victims by going to unfinishedvotes.com.
“I’ve been gone for two years and nothing has changed, bro. People are still getting killed by guns. What is that? Everyone knows it but they don’t do anything. I am tired of waiting for someone to fix it.”
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This would have been the first year Joaquin could have voted in a presidential election.
“I’ll never get to choose the kind of world that I wanted to live in. So you’ve got to replace my vote,” Joaquin says in the video. “Vote for politicians who care more about people’s lives than the gun lobby’s money. Vote for people not getting shot, bro.”
The Olivers call the video and the process of producing it “the most difficult experience we’ve had since we started fighting to end gun violence after our son was murdered.”
However, they say it’s their duty to fight for change in Joaquin’s name.
“See Joaquin was an activist, not a victim, that is giving you great advice. He is telling you that you should vote for people that give more value to the lives of a person, then to sell guns,” said Manuel.
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After the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which 17 people were killed, 17 others injured, the Olivers launched Change the Ref in memory of their son and the others who died. The charity was formed to give “young people the tools they need to be empowered to make changes to critical issues that affect our nation, through education, conversation, and activism.”