Quantcast
Connect with us

“Forgiveness isn’t given lightly”: El Pasoans balance healing with anger a year after Walmart massacre

Published

on

Reported survelliance video footage of the shooter who committed mass murder at an El Paso Walmart (Twitter)

It’s been about a year since the lyrics to the Spanish-language ballad rang out in the parking lot of a shopping complex in east-central El Paso. The song, Amor Eterno, was penned by borderland hero Juan Gabriel and speaks about a family’s tragic loss. It was played several times here in the aftermath of one of the deadliest mass shootings in the state’s history.

ADVERTISEMENT

On Monday, the lyrics resonated once again as a duo sang its message of agony and remembrance just before 23 white doves were released in honor of the victims.

But there was also an undercurrent of enduring fear and anger that hasn’t faded since a gunman confessed to targeting Hispanic people in order to ward off what he said was an invasion of this country. The alleged gunman, Patrick Crusius, 22, has spent the last year in jail and is charged with dozens of state and federal crimes that could result in a death sentence.

To some, that punishment is justified. To others, what’s more important right now is that people don’t forget what led to the shooting: hate-filled rhetoric in a divided nation that scapegoats people of color.

“We want to remember them and ask for justice. But justice happens through remembering why this attack occurred,” said Fernando Garcia, the executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights. “We’re worried that people want to forget the reason this happened. It was a racist attack, it was motivated by white supremacy.”

Crusius is being prosecuted on state and federal charges, though it’s unclear which case will proceed first. His punishment in both trials could lead to the death penalty. That determination is likely years away in a judicial system whose regular operations have been hard hit by a global pandemic. Meanwhile, a city that still mourns is grappling with how to heal without shortchanging itself on the best way to stand against the hatred that acted as a catalyst for the tragedy.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I’ll never forgive him. That was my wife. That was everything in my life,” said Tony Basco, a widower whose wife, Margie Reckard, died in the shooting. “I felt her die when he shot her in the head. He stole my soul away, he stole my love. I hate the dude, I wish death upon him.”

Basco said last year that he had no immediate family in El Paso, so he invited the city to mourn his wife’s loss with him. More than a thousand people showed up to support him.

Bishop Mark Seitz, of the El Paso Catholic Diocese, said he understood the anger and said forgiveness needs to be earned.

ADVERTISEMENT

“People have a right to be angry. I am angry at what happened, and I am angry at him,” he said. “Forgiveness isn’t something that’s given lightly. All of that being said, vengeance is not the solution to violence. It just creates a cycle of more violence, and so we’ve got to find ways to find justice that don’t simply continue that cycle of violence. And we have to direct our anger in such a way.”

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, didn’t mention an elected official by name. But she didn’t hide her message that GOP rhetoric — at the highest levels — contributed to the massacre.

ADVERTISEMENT

“While we have to make sure that our families come first and that we recognize the needs of these families, it is also critical that we recognize why we are here today,” she said. “We are here today because some of the highest leaders in this land have fueled hatred for communities of color and have used language to describe immigrants that rips them from their humanity. We will not have reconciliation until we confront that hate and that racism, until we reject it and we remove the power that it has.”

Hispanic people weren’t the only ones injured or killed in the shooting, however. Pastor Michael Grady of Prince of Peace Christian Fellowship, who retired from the military and moved back to El Paso in 2004, said that shows that all communities of color need to come together in the shooting’s aftermath.

His daughter, Michelle Grady, who is black, was shot three times during Crusius’ rampage. She’s gone through 17 surgeries and is recovering, Michael Grady said.

ADVERTISEMENT

“People often say that the manifesto said he came to kill Mexicans. Michelle is obviously not Mexican, but she was in the way,” he said. “She was donating to a soccer team [outside]. … Yes, I am angry, but we have to work with the powers that be and we have to be a coalition.”

Kianna Long, 25, hid with other shoppers in a shipping container after the shots rang out. She understands the anger and keeps some of it for herself. She hopes it will fade, but one year after the massacre, she’s not quite there.

“Everybody has a change of heart eventually,” she said Monday at the memorial. It was her first trip back to the scene since the shooting. “I’ll come to terms with that, but right now it’s not my time.”

Disclosure: Walmart has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

ADVERTISEMENT

by Juliãn Aguilar for The Texas Tribune


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Is Trump Putin’s friend, foe or useful idiot?

Published

on

“We assess that President Vladimir Putin and the senior most Russian officials are aware of and probably directing Russia’s influence operations aimed at denigrating the former US Vice President, supporting the US president and fueling public discord ahead of the US election in November.”

Thus reads the first line of a top-secret CIA assessment, published on August 31 but reported today. The report details how Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach, who, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the US Treasury Department is a Russian agent, is disseminating false stories about Democratic nominee Joe Biden through congressmembers, lobbyists, the media, and people close to the president. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has been openly working with Derkach for several months.

Continue Reading

2020 Election

Here are the 6 crucial races that will flip the senate — and the GOP’s death grip on America

Published

on

This November, we have an opportunity to harness your energy and momentum into political power and not just defeat Trump, but also flip the Senate. Here are six key races you should be paying attention to.

1. The first is North Carolina Republican senator Thom Tillis, notable for his “olympic gold” flip-flops. He voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, then offered a loophole-filled replacement that excluded many with preexisting conditions. In 2014 Tillis took the position that climate change was “not a fact” and later urged Trump to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, before begrudgingly acknowledging the realities of climate change in 2018. And in 2019, although briefly opposing Trump’s emergency border wall declaration, he almost immediately caved to pressure.

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

Here’s what you can do if you’re panicking over Trump trying to steal the election

Published

on

If you read The Atlantic report and heard President Donald Trump announced he'll demand they "get rid of the ballots," you might be nervous.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow's call to defend American democracy likely didn't help as she sounded the alarm that "it's happening" and urged Americans to save democracy.

Continue Reading
 
 
Democracy is in peril. Invest in progressive news. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free. LEARN MORE