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Elected Officials And Advocates Condemn Continued Use Of Deadly White Nationalist Rhetoric On El Paso Anniversary

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Elected officials and advocates remembered victims of the mass shooting that took the lives of 23 people and injured 22 others at an El Paso Walmart four years ago this week. The attack was inspired by white nationalist rhetoric, which anti-immigrant lawmakers and campaigns continue to espouse in the years since. In tweets and statements, officials and advocates honored the victims and marked the anniversary by urging party leaders to affirm that this rhetoric has no place in Congress, or our diverse nation.

“On August 3, 2019, El Pasoans found themselves at the center of America’s domestic violent extremism and our gun violence epidemic,” tweeted Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), who represents El Paso. She noted the “white supremacist confessed that he drove over 10 hours to El Paso in order to slaughter Hispanics and immigrants.”

“He published a screed online, using the same xenophobic rhetoric used by former President Donald Trump,” Rep. Escobar wrote, “rhetoric that is still unapologetically repeated today by many Republicans in positions of public trust.”

The white nationalist mass shooter was sentenced to 90 consecutive life sentences in July, after pleading guilty to 90 federal hate crimes and firearms violations earlier this year. “While the federal trial is over, there is a state trial ahead,” Rep. Escobar continued. “But no sentence can bring back the innocent souls we lost on that day.”

“Four years ago, white supremacy fueled a tragic mass shooting targeting Latinos in El Paso,” tweeted Vice President Kamala Harris. “We must honor with action the lives of those who were taken from us, the survivors, and the resilience of the El Paso community.”

“Four years ago today, an assailant committed a heinous hate crime in El Paso that killed more than 20 people and injured more than 20 others,” tweeted Department of Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas. “We mourn the lives lost. Such a hate crime victimizes not only those directly attacked, but all of us.” America’s Voice Political Director Zachary Mueller has previously written that “DHS has made it abundantly clear that violent domestic extremism motivated in part by white nationalist ideologies is the greatest terror threat facing the homeland.”

House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-CT) tweeted that we must “recommit to rooting out bigotry and keeping weapons of war off our streets”:

“Four years ago today, a gunman motivated by white nationalist conspiracy theories about a ‘Hispanic invasion’ drove hundreds of miles to murder 23 people and injure 22 more in El Paso, Texas,” tweeted Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the highest ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. “Xenophobic language inspires domestic terrorism. It’s more important than ever we denounce hateful rhetoric when we see it to help prevent future tragedies and save lives.”

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), former Speaker of the House, tweeted that the racist mass shooter “terrorized the Latino community in El Paso and claimed 23 beautiful souls”:

“It’s been four years since a gunman in El Paso carried out the deadliest attack on Latinos in American history, driven by racist lies from Donald Trump and others about a Hispanic ‘invasion,’” tweeted Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX).

“Four years ago today, a gunman motivated by white nationalist conspiracy theories about a ‘Hispanic invasion’ drove hundreds of miles to murder 23 people and injure 22 more in El Paso, Texas,” tweeted Rep. Greg Casar (D-TX). “Top Republican officials should help us stop mass killings like this, instead of echoing the same xenophobic rhetoric that this murderer used.”

“Four years ago, 23 people lost their lives and 22 more were injured after a gunman drove hundreds of miles to El Paso; he was motivated by white nationalist conspiracy theories about a ‘Hispanic invasion’ at the southern border,” tweeted Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ). Yet we continue to see Republicans use the same xenophobic language at the highest levels of government. Today I stand with @RepEscobar, El Paso, and all other communities affected by this kind of political violence in denouncing the hateful rhetoric and remembering the victims.”

Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus chair, tweeted that the shooter “was fueled by white nationalist conspiracy theories about a ‘Hispanic invasion’ at the southern border”:

“4 years ago today 23 people lost their lives and 22 were injured in El Paso,” tweeted Rep. Nydia Velázquez. The gunman was motivated by white nationalist conspiracy theories about a ‘Hispanic invasion’. A message that MAGA Republicans continue to push. We must continue to fight back against this xenophobia.”

“4 years ago today a gunman fueled by white nationalist conspiracies of a ‘Hispanic invasion’ drove 100s of miles to murder 23 people & injure 22 in @ElPasoTXGov, Texas,” tweeted Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). “It’s critical we call out Republicans for using the same xenophobic language that inspires domestic terrorism.”

“As we remember the victims of the shooting in El Paso four years ago today, I renew my commitment to combat hate and the use of vile, xenophobic language that was responsible for this massacre,” tweeted Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA). 

“Unfortunately, we continue to see legislators use the same xenophobic language at the highest levels of government,” tweeted Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC). “33 Members of Congress employed ‘invasion’ rhetoric in official remarks 81 times. Words matter.”

“On August 3, 2019, a gunman killed 23 people and wounded 22 at a Walmart in El Paso. He drove more than 650 miles from Allen, a suburb in North Texas,” tweeted Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. “His racist manifesto described the attack as a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

“Four years later, individuals impacted by this terrorist attack continue to live in fear, and do not have access to the resources, or protection, they need to heal,” Las Americas continued. “This is particularly damaging for immigrants and undocumented persons here in the borderlands.” The organization pointed to one survivor who wasn’t injured by bullets but remains deeply scarred by the terror attack. While the organization has advocated for a group of 50 survivors and loved ones who’ve applied for U-visas, which are available to undocumented immigrant victims of crime, just one has been approved.

“We cannot forget that this massacre occurred as a result of weak gun control laws as well as the spread of hateful, white supremacist, and xenophobic rhetoric towards immigrants of color and minorities,” said Border Network for Human Rights Executive Director Fernando García. “This narrative continues to be spread in Texas and throughout our nation by extremist politicians. It is essential that we come together to denounce white supremacy, xenophobia, and the anti-immigrant agenda.”

“Four years ago, El Paso experienced a mass shooting at the hands of a white supremacist fueled by anti-Latino rhetoric. The city came together to stand against hate and gun violence,” tweeted Voto Latino. “Today, we honor the victims and amplify the power of El Paso.”

“Four years ago today, a white supremacist driven by anti-immigrant, xenophobic conspiracy theories killed 23 innocent people in a Walmart in #ElPaso, Texas,” tweeted Human Rights First. “Words matter. They have an impact. We won’t forget.”

“4 years ago, a white supremacist opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, TX,” tweeted Brady – United Against Gun Violence. “He killed 23 people and injured 22 others. This attack was a direct result of weak gun laws and racist rhetoric against immigrants.”

“4 years ago today, a gunman killed 23 people & wounded 22 more in a racist attack on an El Paso Walmart,” tweeted Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service President Krish O’Mara Vignarajah. “Never forget the victims and their loved ones, and never go numb to the extremist ideology that seeks to paint immigrants as dangerous invaders.” 

More than 160 organizations signed onto a letter urging Congressional leadership to unequivocally denounce white supremacist rhetoric that inspired this tragedy and others across the nation. Communities across El Paso also held a number of events throughout the day, including a bell toll ceremony, an El Paso Museum of Art altar creation, and blood drive, to remember and honor victims of the tragedy. For those who weren’t able to attend an event in person, the City of El Paso created a virtual condolence page. Click here for more information.