On August 3, 2019, a man who had driven hundreds of miles across Texas to the city of El Paso carried out his plan to kill as many Mexicans as possible. Armed with an assault rifle, the killer opened fire at the Cielo Vista Walmart, slaughtering mothers and fathers and sons and daughters. Grandparents, cousins and aunts and uncles died on a typical Saturday shopping day.
Their lives meant a damn to their loved ones, their co-workers, their neighbors, and their fellow Paseños and Juarenses. El Paso, after all, is inextricably linked to its sister city of Ciudad Juarez, Chihauhua-in life and in death.
Twenty two people perished that horrendous day. A 23rd victim, 36-year-old Guillermo “Memo” Garcia died last April after spending more than eight months in the hospital. Media reports describe Garcia as a popular soccer coach who left behind a wife and two small children; his shielding actions are credited for saving lives. More than 20 other people were wounded in that vicious attack on a Saturday morning.
El Paso and the world were stunned, outraged and heart-broken by the massacre. The killing spree came amid years of escalating racist violence and threats throughout the United States.
The racist climate has only intensified since that day of infamy in El Paso almost one year ago. During the last few days in neighboring New Mexico, for instance, an elected official was quoted urging protesters to “go back to Africa,” while an Albuquerque resident reportedly returned to her car at a store parking lot only to find the “N” word scrawled on her vehicle.
In El Paso, the community rallied against racist violence last year, under the slogan “El Paso Firme,” or El Paso Strong.
On Monday, August 3, 2020, the El Paso-based Border Network for Human Rights and allies will gather for a 9 am memorial at Ponder Park. They will remember “the innocent lives” ripped away at the Cielo Vista Walmart in 2019 and to continue the struggle to eradicate “white supremacy, racism, and xenophobia, as well as demand respect for immigrants.”
According to the organizers, “This rally will provide a solemn space in which community members will be able to mourn the tragic incident while also lifting up their voices to demand justice. El Paso stood up to this hate once already and will continue the legacy of fighting so that this never happens again.”
More information can be found here.
For the purposes of contemporary justice and historical memory, here are the names of the people whose lives were stolen by the August 3, 2019 massacre:
Andre Anchondo, 23; Jordan Anchondo, 24; Arturo Benavides, 60; Leo Campos, 41: Maria Flores, 77; Raul Flores, 77; Jorge Calvillo, 61; Adolfo Cerros Hernandez, 68; Alexander Hoffman, 66; David Johnson, 63; Luis Juarez, 90; Maria Eugenia Legaretta; 58; Elsa Mendoza, 57; Maribel Loya, 56; Ivan Manzano, 46; Gloria Marquez, 61; Margie Reckard, 63; Sarah Regalado Moriel, 66; Javier Rodriguez, 15; Teresa Sanchez, 82; Angelina Silva-Elisbee, 86; Juan Velazquez, 77, Guillermo Garcia, 36.