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Moms Demand Action volunteers pose for a photo with Beto O'Rourke
Volunteer Stories

Four Years Later: El Pasoans Share Love For Their City

Four years ago, our borderland community of El Paso, Texas was forever changed when a white supremacist armed with a semiautomatic rifle targeted Latinx people at a Walmart, stealing 23 lives and wounding 23 others. The Cielo Vista area is known as a spot where Mexican nationals come on weekends to shop and visit with family.

The shooting reverberated across the country, but was especially felt by Latinx communities who have long experienced the racism and anti-immigrant beliefs that fuel this kind of hatred. Paired with easy access to guns, this hatred becomes even more deadly.

“El Paso was previously the forgotten big city of Texas. On August 3, 2019 our happy desert anonymity came to an end as hate-filled fear mongering spurred an armed individual to drive 10 hours across Texas to kill.

We can work for tolerance and hope for an end to racism and injustice. But until we can conquer hate-fueled rhetoric, we need common sense gun laws that disarm hate by banning assault weapons, limiting access to high-capacity magazines, and requiring background checks for all gun sales.”

Bernadette Segura, El Pasoan who helped shooting victims with legal aid

A Red Flag law, also known as Extreme Risk Law, could have prevented the August 3rd mass shooting. We’ve been demanding Texas lawmakers pass this critical gun safety law for years. But instead, the Texas Legislature passed permitless carry—allowing anyone to carry a concealed, loaded gun in public with no questions asked—which paved the way for tragedies like the shooting in Uvalde.

Two Moms Demand Action volunteers stand near an El Paso memorial

The gun violence our communities face is made worse by these reckless, “guns everywhere” laws, and we continue trying to disrupt the hate with kindness, love, and being there for one another. That’s what it means to be #ElPasoStrong. Despite the darkness in the world, the love shown by El Pasoans can keep shining bright as an example of how hate never wins.

Before that day, I had no problem proudly telling people I was from El Paso. After it, I wasn’t eager to share where I was from anymore because of the actions of one racist shooter. How could his single act of deadly hatred overshadow everything I loved about my city?

A beautiful border city where we lined up to donate blood and delivered water to families waiting for information. A city where thousands showed up to the funeral of a victim that didn’t have a lot of family, because here in El Paso, todos somos familia (everyone is family). We showed up to celebrate the birthday of a baby that lost his parents in the shooting. Every day we show kindness and love to random strangers. We help others because that’s what El Paso does. It’s who we are.

My own brother’s birthday is August 3rd. When the shooting happened, he was delivering water to Burges High School—where victims’ families gathered—instead of celebrating. He is a perfect example of how we take care of each other here.

We continued to be kind, friendly, and welcoming despite a hateful act that could have driven us apart. Hate has no place in our city or in any other city in the world. We’ve always been #ElPasoStrong and no one armed with a hateful agenda or a gun can take that from us.

Four years later, I will proudly proclaim that I am from El Paso once again.

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