EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – El Paso is preparing to mark the third anniversary of a tragedy prompted by its immigrant heritage with events to promote healing and denounce gun violence and racism.
The City Council on Tuesday will observe a moment of silence followed by the reading of the names of victims of the Aug. 3, 2019, mass shooting at a Walmart that left 23 people dead and 23 wounded. A representative of the Mexican consulate will attend the 8:30 a.m. ceremony. The shooting claimed the lives of nine Mexican citizens, some of whom were naturalized Americans as well. A mariachi band will play music in honor of the victims.
Other events will take place throughout the day Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The El Paso massacre occurred in 2019 as a result of weak gun laws as well as the spread of hateful, white supremacist and xenophobic rhetoric towards immigrants of color and minorities,” said the Border Network for Human Rights, which will hold a memorial at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Ponder Park, 7500 Burges Drive. The act will include a procession with crosses.
The shooter allegedly drove 10 hours from North Texas to the border after posting an online manifesto denouncing the “Hispanic invasion” of Texas. He allegedly walked into the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall and began shooting with an AK-47; he later gave himself up to police.
Both BNHR as well as U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, are calling for stricter gun control laws.
“I will do what I have done three straight years: talk to the families and be with the families and also be out in the community because it’s a terrible day,” Escobar said on Friday. “I know we will experience (again) much emotion and pain and it’s important to be together as much as possible.”
Escobar has spent much of the week promoting gun legislation in the House that will include a ban on “assault weapons,” which she says still doesn’t have sufficient support in the Senate.
She also chastised Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and former President Trump for coming to El Paso in the days following the massacre and making promises she says they did not fulfill.
“One family was made major promises of financial support. She lost her husband and never heard back from Trump. Unfortunately, many of our families are living with the financial consequences of that shooting,” she said.
Escobar accused Abbott – who has called out previous allegations she’s made against him as “inaccurate” – of making Texas less safe for minorities since the El Paso shooting, not safer, by supporting open-carry gun laws in the state.
Getting back to the healing, Live Active El Paso will be hosting a “healing session” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at San Jacinto Plaza, 114 W. Mills Ave.
On Wednesday, the El Paso Museum of History will hold an exhibit called Resiliency that includes items left by community members at a makeshift memorial behind the Walmart in the days after the mass shooting.
Luminarias will be placed at Ponder Park from 7 to 9 p.m. with El Paso Pro-Musica providing a musical tribute. Various public artworks and buildings will be lighted up that evening. And the El Paso Chamber will sponsor a “flashing ceremony” starting at 8:30 p.m. in which the city’s iconic star on the Franklin Mountains will turn on and off 23 times for each victim