Which Walmart was the El Paso shoot
At the weekend it became a brutal reality, the violence on the border that Donald Trump keeps talking about. But it was not Mexicans who spread death and terror in El Paso, not "invaders" from Central America, as the US President calls them. It was a white racist. The 21-year-old got into the car in a suburb of Dallas. After a ten hour drive across Texas, he reached El Paso, the city of 700,000 on the border with Mexico.
In a shopping center, the man shot and killed 20 people with an assault rifle and injured 26 others on Saturday. Since then there has been sadness, horror and anger in El Paso. One of the safest cities in the USA, shaped by its many Latin American inhabitants, has become the scene of a terrorist attack.
Terror is not always the term used by the US authorities after a racially motivated attack. But this time the situation is clear. "We are treating this case as a domestic terrorism case, and we will do what we do with all terrorists in this country," said Attorney General John F. Bash on Sunday: "We will quickly and firmly hold them accountable."
Specifically, the public prosecutor's office is planning to indict the shooter, who is now in custody, of hate crimes. It may have the death penalty on it in Texas. The authorities also confirmed that the racist manifesto posted on the 8chan forum page shortly before the crime was the shooter's work. In it he announced that he wanted to stop the "Hispanic invasion of Texas". According to investigators, he had legally acquired the WASR-10 rapid-fire rifle, the Romanian civilian version of a modernized AK-47 with which he killed people.
The 8chan provider company no longer provides its technology to the forum site
Cloudflare, the San Francisco-based company that maintains the technical infrastructure for 8chan, among others, has now announced that it will no longer offer this service on the forum site. "The rationale is simple. They have proven they are lawless, and that lawlessness has resulted in many tragic deaths. While 8chan themselves may not have broken the law by refusing to moderate their hateful community, they have but created an environment that indulges in hurting it, "said Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare, in a blog post as a justification.
El Paso is the hometown of the Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, he grew up there, represented the area in the US Congress from 2013 to early 2019 and still lives there today. On Saturday, O'Rourke was campaigning with trade unionists in Las Vegas when he learned of the attack. He immediately called his wife, who was in the car in El Paso with their daughter. "This is a reminder of what really matters in the end," he said. Soon after the fact, O'Rourke announced in a tear-choked voice that he would interrupt his election campaign to go to El Paso to visit his family and friends: "I am so sad."
Political mud fight after the massacre
When he tuned in on CNN the next day, O'Rourke sounded angry and no longer sad. He criticized the Republicans in Congress for nullifying all attempts to restrict access to weapons. And he assigned Trump a share of responsibility for the attack: With his rhetoric against immigrants, the president had a lot to do with what happened in El Paso. Asked by the moderator whether he thinks Trump is a "white nationalist", O'Rourke said: "Yes".
In another interview with CBS he explained what he meant by that: "Anyone who, as President, describes asylum seekers at the border as invaders or animals, who calls all those who do not belong to the majority of the population, sows the kind of reaction, we saw in El Paso yesterday. "
With that, the political mud battle around the assassination had definitely broken out. Ronna McDaniel, the leader of the Republican Party, accused O'Rourke of using the El Paso tragedy to revive his rather unsuccessful presidential candidacy: "This is hideous and wrong." However, it wasn't just O'Rourke who criticized Trump's role. In turn, the Democratic presidential candidates spoke up.
Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, urged the president to turn to the Americans to unequivocally condemn the assassin's white nationalism - and to get his Senate party to allow at least small reforms of gun law. At least on Sunday, Trump didn't. Before he flew back to Washington from his weekend on a golf course, he simply said to journalists: "Hate has no place in our country."
Other Republicans were already moving on - at least some from Texas. George Prescot Bush, son of the former presidential candidate Jeb Bush and his Mexican wife, called on all politicians to distance themselves from "white terrorism". Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas, also commented in this direction: As the son of a Cuban immigrant, he was shocked by the hatred of Latin Americans that the shooter had spread in his manifesto.
It is possible that Trump will also manage to distance himself more clearly, especially if public pressure increases on him. The White House has announced another statement for Monday. Whether Trump and the Republicans will also move on the question of concrete consequences for the gun laws: That is open.
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