President Donald Trump continues to fan the flames of white supremacy even after a gunman stormed an El Paso Walmart this past weekend and killed 22 people in its name. In response, concerned interests have banded together to plan vigils across the United States on Wednesday in honor of those killed in the shooting (and the one that happened soon after in Dayton, Ohio) and to serve as a call to action against white supremacy and gun violence. Dozens of gatherings had been planned for Wednesday across more than 45 communities across the United States.
Discussing the convergence of trends of gun violence and white supremacy, the organizing groups behind the gatherings shared in a joint statement:
‘This is the resistance of our communities, across this country, against white supremacy, against unfettered access to weapons of war, against the Trump hate agenda, against a worldview that sows misery and contempt for human life. This is a fight for safety, true freedom, and justice for every life that has been lost at the hands of hate in America.’
The events are the work of interests including the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR), Refugee And Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), and others. The demonstrations are planned for the same day on which Trump is visiting El Paso and Dayton, where protesters quickly made their intent to counter his time there abundantly clear. In Dayton, some even brought out a balloon made into the infamous image of Trump as a crying baby using Twitter. Those affected by the shootings including local leaders like Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley have been up in arms over the president making a show of stepping in as some sort of leader after spouting literally the exact same rhetoric used by the El Paso shooter, who — like Trump — bemoaned a supposed “invasion” of immigrants into the United States.
Although in the immediate aftermath of the shootings, Trump presented scripted remarks about the need for the “nation” to condemn white supremacy with “one voice,” more recently when a reporter asked him if had “regret” over pushing the shooter’s ideology, he jumped right into a defense of it. He rambled just this Thursday about how bad “illegal immigration” supposedly is for the United States.
In what functions as a response, those behind the Wednesday gatherings assert, discussing those behind gun rights advocacy and anti-immigrant policies:
‘They profit from the politics of hate and fear. Their objective is fear. They want white people to fear immigrants. For immigrants to fear government. We must be clear, we do not hate them, and we are also not afraid of them. We know that our courage will always be greater than fear.’
Trump has long defined his time in office with violent rhetoric and behavior towards immigrants, whether or not he personally profits. He rose to national prominence on a promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and he has attempted numerous ways to dial back asylum protections for the people who come through anyway, many of which — like the attempt to restrict asylum only to those arriving at designated ports of entry — have been batted down in court.
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