On Aug. 3, a gunman killed 20 people and injured 26 inside a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
Police arrested the suspect—a white man in his early 20s from a town hours away. They said he appeared to post a lengthy, anti-immigrant manifesto online just before the shooting began. And as of this morning, federal authorities were investigating the shooting as an act of “domestic terrorism” and a hate crime.
El Paso is on the border, and 80% of its residents are Latino. Richard Wiles, the sheriff of El Paso, took to Facebook to call out racism as one of the main motivations behind the attack. “This Anglo man came here to kill Hispanics. I’m outraged and you should be too,” he wrote.
Wiles then called on politicians to recognize that discrimination was the inspiration for the attack. “I want representatives who will stand up against racism. Who will stand up and support the diversity of our nation and our state,” he wrote.
Beto O’Rourke, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate who grew up El Paso, announced he’d be suspending his campaign to return to his home town.
I am devastated by what has happened in El Paso today. Our strength is with the families who are grieving. Our thanks to EPPD. Our commitment is with those who will change this country so that this doesn’t happen again. This beautiful amazing courageous community will overcome.
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 3, 2019
The majority of statements from the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates focused more on gun control than white nationalism. The US hasn’t reformed its gun laws in a quarter of a century and has the highest rate of gun ownership of any nation on Earth, with more than 120 guns per 100 people.
Heartbroken to hear the news from El Paso. Our thoughts are with those impacted by yet another senseless act of gun violence in America.
How many lives must be cut short? How many communities must be torn apart? It’s past time we take action and end our gun violence epidemic.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 3, 2019
According to authorities, 9 people were killed and 26 were injured in the Dayton shooting. It lasted less than a minute.
Less than a minute.
We cannot remain idle and allow this level of carnage to ravage our communities. We need courage. We need to act.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 4, 2019
Tonight I’m heartsick for El Paso & I’m once again disgusted by the GOP leadership in Washington. Americans shouldn’t have to live in fear that if they go to Walmart, or a festival, or school, or just walk down the street that they won’t make it home alive. This has to stop.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) August 3, 2019
Our country is under attack from white nationalist terrorism, inspiring murder on our soil and abetted by weak gun laws. If we are serious about national security, we must summon the courage to name and defeat this evil.
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) August 3, 2019
US president Donald Trump tweeted out a message of thoughts and prayers, but did not make any comments about gun control or white supremacy.
….Melania and I send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the great people of Texas.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2019
This sort of response, however, was not enough for the El Paso sheriff.
“Not pointing out anyone in particular, but I’m sick of people jumping in front of the cameras offering prayers and condolences as things just keep getting worse,” he wrote. “El Paso will never be the same, because a racist came to our city to try and make a point. It didn’t work though, because the backlash of this community, as we hold national, state and local politicians accountable, will be the only point that will be made.”
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