“We thought this was over and it’s still not over,” says a marcher who was involved in the Chicano Movement almost 60 years ago.
More than 100 people marched through the El Paso, Texas, border area on Saturday to denounc racism and call for stronger gun laws one week after a mass shooting at a Walmart left 22 people dead.
With grief and shock still being felt a week after a gunman targeting Latinos shot and killed 22 people and injured about two dozen more, El Paso residents and others marched and rallied to deliver a forceful message: Don’t forget what happened here.
“¡Ya Basta! and !Enough is Enough!” marchers, including Hispanics who’d come from other parts of the country for the demonstration, said as they marched from a small downtown park to the El Paso County Courthouse. The dead included eight people from Mexico.
There were calls for gun control and crackdowns on white supremacists and a rallying cry for action from Jessica Coca Garcia, a survivor of the Walmart shooting whose husband still is in critical condition in an El Paso hospital.
“He may have paralyzed us for a little bit,” she said of the gunman,” … but I’m going to get up and fight back.”
The march and rally were organized by the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, a 90-year-old Latino civil rights organization that has a long history of taking on discrimination and violence against Mexican-Americans, Latinos and more recently, immigration.
“I grew up in the 60s and 70s. I was part of the Chicano movement” said Jesse Estrada, 67, an El Paso native. “We thought this was over and it’s still not over.”
Beto O’Rourke, a 2020 presidential candidate who has been in El Paso all week, helped lead the march through a neighborhood to the courthouse. He joined in some of the chants. Beto said that the city of El Paso is the solution for a divided nation.
Before the march, state Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-Clint, said while the attack on back-to-school shoppers was a domestic terrorism attack, it should not be forgotten that it was fueled by racism against Latinos. According to court documents, the gunman confessed when he was arrested that he was the shooter and he was targeting “Mexicans.”
Domingo Garcia, LULAC’s president, told NBC News in an interview before the march and rally, that the group wants the federal government to form a task force to deal with white supremacy and a ban on assault weapons. The group also is calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session to deal with gun access.
“We are asking for concrete steps to be taken to stop what happened in El Paso from happening again,” Garcia said.
Dennis Montoya, a past president of a LULAC Albuquerque, N.M., council, said he traveled to El Paso for the rally to show solidarity and “because what happened here in El Paso can happen to any of us at any time.”
“The atmosphere around us is toxic and it needs to end,” he said. “It is likely to get worse unless we take action against it.”