Texas AFL-CIO on El Paso Shootings, White Supremacy

In the wake of yesterday’s mass shooting in El Paso, Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy and Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay issued the following statement:

“We are devastated and angry over the deaths of 20 people and injuries of dozens more in the mass shooting in El Paso. We mourn with the City and with the State of Texas, and we commend the amazing work of First Responders, health care workers and the working families of El Paso, including the El Paso Central Labor Council, who are engaged in practical ways to help victims. We stand ready to help in any way we can. 

But none of this is enough, and we all know it.

The related scourges of bigotry, hatred and ultra-powerful guns in the wrong hands must be addressed. 

Our state and nation need solutions on mass gun violence, and we need them now. 

As long ago as 1994, the AFL-CIO endorsed legislation that would have put reins on assault weapons. There can be no Fair Shot Agenda for working families whose lives end because tools of mass murder make it into the wrong hands. We cannot be silent as El Paso, Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe haunt our recent memories. Our elected leaders can approve policies that respect the 2nd Amendment while keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists. We cannot continue to ‘leave the politics until later.’ The time to act is now.

Just as importantly, news reports suggest the El Paso shooting is directly linked to a hate-filled manifesto deploring a “Hispanic invasion” and applauding a mass murder of Muslims in New Zealand. The labor movement in Texas has repeatedly spoken out about domestic terrorism, white supremacy and bigotry. We condemn hatred of any group with all the forces at our command. No more.

We must also hold to account politicians who reinforce hatred based on race, ethnicity and religion. President Trump continues to poison the well of public discussion, giving license for those who hate to come out of their hiding places. We condemn such speech and we equally condemn silence by politicians and others in positions to confront it. 

The facts are not in on what caused the El Paso shooter to move from hatred to infamous action. We are certain, however, that if all of us would speak out against hatred, against racism, against anti-Semitism, against anti-Muslim attacks, against bigotry wherever we see it, we would make future tragedies less likely.

We are also certain the people of El Paso will prevail. The lines around the block at the blood bank, the donations of food and resources, and the active search for ways to help are evidence that good is more powerful than the evil we have witnessed. Our communities have come together – as they always have – in the wake of tragedy. We need to take the next step and fight for a consensus to stop the epidemic of hatred and violence.”