August 3, 2023
A woman stands near a memorial for the victims of the Aug. 3, 2019, mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.
A Statement from Brenda Victoria Castillo, President & CEO of the
National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC)
Four years ago, a racist White nationalist drove more than 600 miles to El Paso, Texas and took the lives of 23 innocent people, injuring 22 others. His sole intent was to harm as many Latinos as he could, calling the act of terror “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
This hate crime is considered the deadliest attack against Latinos in modern American history. And on this day, NHMC hopes to both remember and honor the lives of those lost to a monstrous act of violence, once again sending our condolences and prayer to the survivors and bereaved families.
We’re also here to demand more from our elected leaders across the country – the time for words of comfort has long passed. Little to nothing has changed, and it’s time for action.
Four years ago–on the heels of over 2,000 Trump Campaign Facebook Ads calling for a stop to “the invasion”, the El Paso gunman was radicalized by anti-Latino and anti-immigration rhetoric. Years later, and, social media is still a breeding ground for this type of rhetoric today, flowing through right wing radio waves with little-to-no regulation.
Today, migrants entering Texas are facing heinous and inhumane treatment at our border. Under the leadership of Governor Greg Abbott, Texas Department of Public Safety officers are being instructed to separate families, push migrant children and adults back into the Rio Grande and deny them basic rights like access to clean drinking water, medical care, and shelter. Migrants have also had to face cruel methods of preventing them from seeking asylum in the United States, including crossing river barrels with razor-barbed wire.
These grotesque and cruel methods of preventing migrants from crossing the border into Texas have resulted in countless injuries and deaths of those seeking a better life for themselves and their families - and those are only the ones we know of. The imagery of this treatment is an echo of past violence on our community: a dangerous call to action for continued dehumanization of our community which makes up 20% of this country. This is the same anti-Latino imagery and rhetoric that motivated the El Paso gunman four years ago today.
As a graduate of El Paso High School, I traveled to El Paso on the first anniversary of this horrific massacre to join the community in grief and healing. I, along with my team at NHMC, believe that the best way to continue to honor the lives of those senselessly murdered and injured in the shooting is to continue to hold our leaders responsible – for both allowing hate speech on all forms of media to thrive, and for allowing inhumane treatment at the border to go unchecked.
We will continue to push for our stories to be told and call out injustice whenever we see it. It’s high time for our leaders to do the same.
Yours in the movement,
Brenda Victoria Castillo
President & CEO
National Hispanic Media Coalition