Residents of Uvalde rely on gun violence in their community

IIn the town square of Uvalde, Texas, 21 crosses are lined up, each bearing the name of a person killed by the gunman who stormed Robb Elementary School on May 24. They are about two feet tall, with sky blue heart-shaped plates. glued to the top. Sharpie pens are attached to each on a string, so community members can write messages of condolence and love.

“I will always love you my beautiful granddaughter” is written on the memorial of Layla Salazar, a 10-year-old child victim of the shooting. It’s signed “Grandmother”.

While the scene is heartbreaking, for some Latino Texans it also seems tragically familiar. It’s reminiscent of the homemade crosses bearing names that people gathered in El Paso, Texas, after a gunman killed 23 people at a Walmart on August 10, 2019 in the deadliest attack on Latinos in the world. the recent history of the United States.

After that shooting, residents of Uvalde gathered in prayer groups for El Paso, said Sue Rankin, a seven-year Uvalde resident who participated in a prayer three years ago. Now people from nearby communities are praying for Uvalde instead. “We never thought it would happen here,” Rankin says. “I see so many people coming together.”

Read more: “We won’t let these babies be forgotten.” Close-knit Uvalde community mourns after elementary school shooting

Although so far there has been no indication that the shooter’s actions were racially motivated, most of the victims of the Uvalde shooting were Latinos. Nearly 90% of students who attend Robb Elementary School are Latinos, according to data from the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District. According to Everytown For Gun Safety, a nonprofit that advocates for tougher gun control measures and studies gun violence. (The impact of gun violence on Latinos ranks second only to the amount of gun violence inflicted on black people in America.)

Despite the El Paso massacre, other mass shootings in the state in recent years, and the grim statistics, several members of the Uvalde community say their small town has always felt like a haven. But Tuesday’s violence is now forcing some Uvalde residents to speak out about Texas gun laws, which are among the most permissive in the country.

“Canada has no school shootings, the UK has had no shootings since enacting gun control laws…and there were red flags everywhere for that [shooter]says Robert Dennis, who was born and raised in Uvalde and says he has always supported gun ownership. “My ideas about gun ownership are changing.” Dennis went downtown to write “We will miss you” on each of the 21 memorials Thursday morning.

Uvalde is a quiet community, says resident Sofia Aguilar, with relatively little gun violence despite the pervasive hunting culture and popularity of guns in the town. Aguilar says she supports tougher gun control measures. “I’m very upset,” she said. “People buy guns to hurt other people.” Aguilar knew one of the victims, 10-year-old Jacklyn Cazares. She cried when she found Jacklyn’s cross in Town Square.

Read more: Here are the victims of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas

Uvalde County Commissioner Ronald “Ronnie” Garza, who attended Robb Elementary as a child, said he was also shocked that violence of this nature was taking place in Uvalde. “Like any small town, we’ll have an incident here or there, but it’s just tragic,” Garza said. He calls on Texas officials to support tougher gun control measures, such as background checks and age limits. “The current system is not working,” he says. ” Something has to be done. We cannot accept the status quo.

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Write to Jasmine Aguilera at [email protected]


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