It was something far more terrifying: an ambush, carried out by a gunman who made no secret of his hatred of Latinos."We're all feeling it. We're all shaken about it," said Vicki Gaubeca, who lives in Tucson, Arizona, and is the executive director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition. "Rhetoric is enabling racists and white supremacists and people who hate the other. It has emboldened them to act out in ways that are extraordinarily violent and hurtful to our communities."On the streets of El Paso and across the United States, many people who've spoken with CNN this week said they were shocked but not surprised to learn the gunman had railed against Latinos and immigrants in a racist screed that includes some phrases President Trump has uttered in the past. In a national address days after the shooting, Trump called on the nation to condemn racism and white supremacy. But he stopped short of acknowledging his own divisive and racist rhetoric. "He said the right words, but his heart clearly was not into it. He didn't deviate one word from what was on the teleprompter," said Jorge Chepote, a 49-year-old business executive in St. Louis. "You judge people by their actions. Until now, his actions have only contributed to this."It's important to remember, Maria Asuncion Bilbao said, that just months ago at a Florida rally, Trump described what he said was an "invasion" of people crossing the border and laughed when an audience member shouted "shoot them.""He's encouraging this. He's sowing the seeds of hate here," said Asuncion Bilbao, a community organizer for United We Dream in Florida. "This is serious," she said. "Something like this could happen again."
A father fears for his kids' safety
Even before details emerged about the gunman's manifesto, Chepote knew something he'd dreaded had come to pass.Just a few weeks ago, he told CNN he feared one day there'd be a shooting that targeted immigrants."Now that it has happened, it becomes more real," he said on Tuesday. "It's not that we're going to change the way we live our lives, because that would be giving into the fear, but certainly it's something that we need to be more careful about."Chepote, a naturalized US citizen, said he's afraid for his children's safety — but even more afraid about the direction his country is heading. He hopes to see more security measures now at events in the Latino community and, more importantly, hopes the shooting will be a wake-up call."I just hope we don't forget about it," he said. "If people see that nothing happens, it (violence) will continue to happen. … Sometimes you are in the middle of history and you don't realize, this is big. And we cannot let it become normal. And it's becoming normal. That's for me the main worry." In Wisconsin, Christine Neumann-Ortiz said the El Paso shooting immediately made her think of what she's seen unfolding in her own community — from hate crimes targeting immigrants to teachers from immigrant backgrounds facing bullying at schools."There's no question that people recognize that they're being targeted, that a lot of protections they had in the past have been ripped away," said Neumann-Ortiz, , executive director of Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant advocacy organization. "There is more fear."But that, she said, also is galvanizing more people to organize and fight for their rights."The Trump candidacy and presidency … has really escalated the attacks broadly on everybody at once. And it's brought people together, without a doubt, and it's woken up people who had not been active into activism," she said. "I think the more rights we've lost … the more clear things are."
People in El Paso are watching their backs
In El Paso, a city where more than 80% of the population is Latino, the devastation the shooting left behind is palpable days later. Even people who don't know the victims told CNN they're struggling to move forward after the attack."I always felt safe. And this was always somewhere where I could always feel confident that it would not happen here," 26-year-old Adriano Perez told CNN Monday evening at a vigil for the victims. "To find out that this was an act of domestic terrorism rooted in white supremacy … was I think the real turning moment, where it was worse. "Because now, he came here intentionally for the very same reasons that I love this city. … He came here to attack our beautiful immigrant community where we care for one another, where we look out for each other."Carmela Morales, 59, said she has been avoiding grocery shopping since the shooting. But on Tuesday her need for bottled water, ham and eggs forced her to head to another Walmart in the city.SheRead More – Source[contf] [contfnew]