El Paso, Texas, experienced one of the most horrific hate crime slaughters in our nation’s history. Twenty-two people were killed and another twenty or more, primarily Hispanics, were gunned down by Patrick Crusius, 21 years old. Wikipedia states, “It is the deadliest mass shooting in the United States in 2019, the seventh deadliest since 1949, and the third deadliest in Texas. The shooting has been described as the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern American history.”
As most Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, it is well to remember what this day stands for. The English colonists arrived on our shores in 1620, amid a bitter winter which cut their numbers in half. With the help of American Indians, those remaining were able to survive. The Thanksgiving meal was shared after the next year’s harvest with Indians in gratitude for their brotherhood.
I visited El Paso a few months ago and was deeply saddened by this human massacre. And so it is with mixed feelings that I participate in this Thanksgiving, remembering how fortunate my friends and family are to be together for this day, this meal, this fellowship, and how deeply sad I feel for the survivors and the losses in their families because of one man’s misplaced hatred of another race.
This memorial was established at the Walmart in the Cielo Vista Mall. It’s about three city blocks long. The pain of loss and the compassion shown by the living touched me deeply. IMO, it’s difficult if not impossible to feel the ravages of a mass shooting by watching the television news. (The video is intentionally shot at high speed.)
Video courtesy of my friend Gabriela Castaneda.
Words for El Paso
It was night
But still light
The Cielo Vista parking lots glowing horror-show orange from the sodium vapor lights
A pale shimmer from the abandoned Walmart’s security lights
A pulsating blue light from the police car warning, glowering . . .
The unsteady light from a thousand candles mourning the loss of twenty-two souls
Now in their own forever darkness
Bodies and souls taken from this shopping center plaza
In a senseless rampage by a twenty-one year-old
Filled with hate for the Hispanic people he gunned down.
He said Hispanics were “invading Texas” but
The truth is, whites were the invaders, long ago
When Mexico reigned,
But of course that was after
and the Spanish
and the American Indian
Had “invaded” what we now call Texas,
Over which six flags have flown.
How is it humans are the only species to take one another’s lives?
Did this despicable excuse for a human being think it was his inalienable right to perform an ethnic cleansing?
What if he had known he was the invader, not the invaded?
Every living thing has the right to live:
Every blade of grass, every human being.
No one – no one at all, ever – has the right to decide who lives
And who dies
Who gets executed for their race, color, or nationality.
America has become a war zone
Perhaps to exemplify how wrong war is
War in any form.
The death penalty is too brief, too painless,
Too good for this shooter.
Given his hatred of people,
Perhaps a more fitting punishment is