Things That Matter

Two Years Later, Communities Are Remembering The Victims Of The El Paso Massacre

Few of us can believe that it was two years ago when a gunman entered a Walmart in El Paso, Texas and opened fire. The shooter killed 23 people and injured 23 more – nearly all of whom were Latino, which was his expressed intent, saying he wanted to kill Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. The attack is considered to be the deadliest against Latinos in modern U.S. history. Now, two years later, the community is making sure the memory of those killed and injured lives on.

Two year ago today, a man killed 23 people in an El Paso Walmart targeting our community.

Latinos around the country (and around the world) were shocked when a gunman opened fire and killed 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. The suspect wrote a manifesto and included his desire to kill as many Mexicans and Mexican-Americans he could. The days that followed the massacre were filled with grief and pain but now, two years later, much of the community still struggles to understand how this kind of hate could exist in our society.

There are several events planned to honor the victims of the massacre, including the unveiling of the El Paso County Healing Garden along with a lighted star on the Franklin Mountains that will flash 23 times. The El Paso City Council members will also take turns reading each victim’s name and take turns tolling the city’s memorial bell.

The League of United Latin American Citizens, which is the country’s largest and oldest Hispanic membership organization, is planning to hold a moment of silence and address how social media “fueled the disinformation and hate that led” to the massacre to prevent it from happening again.

Representative Veronica Escobar, who represents El Paso, is honoring the victims today.

Rep. Escobar was on the scene shortly after the shooting to be there for her community. The shooting was a reminder of the dangers of the anti-Latino and xenophobic rhetoric that the Trump administration was pushing for years.

“Two years ago, the beautiful border community of El Paso endured a horrific, hate-fueled mass shooting that killed 23 innocent souls, injured 22, and changed our lives forever. Today, our hearts remain broken as we remember the victims, survivors, and all those impacted by the deadliest targeted attack against Latinos in modern American history,” Rep. Escobar said in a statement. “As El Pasoans heal, and demonstrate time and again their strength and resilience, I am determined to continue honoring the victims and survivors with action and ensuring our nation never forgets this tragedy.”

El Paso leaders though say the state is taking steps that harm the memory of victims of the massacre.

Many say that Texas Republicans have taken direct steps that harm the memory of victims and make another El Paso-style massacre more likely in the future. They point to recent legislation that expanded gun rights in the state allowing a permit-less carry bill. Beginning in September, Texans will be allowed to carry a handgun without a permit or training. Governor Abbott supported the bill and signed it into law.

Meanwhile, across the state (and the U.S.) violence by extremist groups is on the rise according to the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice, while dangerous rhetoric against migrants and refugees is commonly shared by Texas Republicans, including the governor.

Thankfully, our community has strong voices in the state – led by Rep. Escobar from El Paso – calling out top leadership, including the governor, for inflammatory language.

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