LOS ANGELES - An angry Maria Ortega was in tears. Her voice elevated as she cried out, "Don’t let any more kids die like my son… please."
One parent after another walked from a nearby park to the industrial complex where Snapchat has its Santa Monica headquarters. Her pain and that of other parents who had lost sons and daughters to Fentanyl allegedly purchased from drug dealers on platforms like Snapchat.
Many young people thought they were buying things like Percocet, but instead they got the powerful opioid Fentanyl disguised as something they thought was safe to take.
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Another mom, Tina Burke held a picture of her son Christian. Burke says he died from Fentanyl. She told us, "I’m not only in excruciating pain, but I’m angry that this is happening to our children."
Snapchat put out a statement saying in part that "At Snap we strictly prohibit drug-related activity on our platform, aggressively enforce against these violations and support law enforcement in their investigations."
They stood by their statement that they stand in support of those who are raising awareness like all of the demonstrators, but two of them Sam Chapman and his wife - TV Therapist Dr. Laura Berman say they didn’t get any sense of that when talking with Snapchat’s CEO and Founder Evan Spiegel on the phone just before the protest.
Dr. Berman says she told Spiegel, "You’re not doing enough to help the police when these cases come up finding these killers and that you’re not allowing parent monitoring software on your app where kids are spending time."
Chapman says that Spiegel said that "…there were privacy issues and manual processes involved that prevented that; the manual processes come when they call police to save a life. If that’s not scalable then shame on them."
Chapman and Berman say they’re taking their concerns to Congress to try and get legislation requiring platforms with kids on them to have parent monitoring software accessibility which for Tina Burke and Maria Ortega would be a step the right direction.
"I don’t wish this pain to any parent out there of losing their child. It’s like losing your own life," Ortega said.
While a Santa Monica Police official says they collaborate with Snapchat on crimes in their jurisdiction that same official told FOX 11 that they do that in a reactionary way; after the crime has occurred. The parents say they want the crimes stopped in the first place.