More than 100 civil rights groups rallied outside the White House Tuesday to unequivocally state that white supremacy, easy access to guns, and indifference from policymakers about both were to blame for the massacres in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio over the weekend.
Gun control and racial justice advocates assembled in the nation's capital for the #WhiteSupremacyKills demonstration, chanting, "Vote them out!" and "Hey hey! Ho ho! White supremacy's got to go!"
— AFT (@AFTunion) August 6, 2019
Such an incredible and productive energy at Lafayette Square this afternoon. Thank you to our fellow organizers and everyone who braved the heat. Let’s get to work! #WhiteSupremacyKills pic.twitter.com/2dad9FoaSF
— AFT (@AFTunion) August 6, 2019
The protest came as President Donald Trump downplayed his role in the rise of white nationalism and other Republicans pointed fingers at video games, LGBTQ people, and the mental healthcare system as the root causes of the shootings.
The El Paso shooting was the largest hate-based, gun-related massacre of Latino people in modern U.S. history, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said in a statement.
Three days after 22 people were shot in the largely Latino city by a gunman who had denounced the so-called "invasion" of Latin American immigrants, demonstrators carried signs that said in both Spanish and English, "Be on the right side of history. Unite against white supremacy."
Our civil and human rights coalition pledges our support and solidarity to the Latino community in El Paso and around the country, and others affected by white supremacist violence.
— The Leadership Conference (@civilrightsorg) August 6, 2019
"The tragedies of this past weekend represent a confluence of two dangerous forces: the rise of white supremacist terror and our federal government's inaction on commonsense gun safety," said the groups, including Voto Latino, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and MoveOn.org, in a joint statement.
"When the president and his enablers routinely denigrate and dehumanize certain communities, he gives permission to white supremacists to commit horrific violence—violence that is at a level unprecedented in more than 20 years," the statement continued. "None of this is acceptable. None of this is normal."
The rally came a day after Trump claimed he aims to "condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy" while failing to acknowledge his own encouragement of the ideologies. In a manifesto, the man accused of killing 22 people in El Paso echoed language Trump has used in his attacks on immigration, saying the shooting was "a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas." The president repeatedly called the arrival of Latin American immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border an "invasion" last year.
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"The impact of Trump's racist rhetoric and policies cannot be ignored when white supremacists—many of whom name him in their attacks and cite him in their hate manifestos—murder innocent people of color," the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said.
In addition to calling on lawmakers and Trump to "unequivocally denounce this violence" and "prevent the rise of white supremacy," organizers denounced Congress for failing to pass gun control legislation like the universal background checks bill which the Democratic-led U.S. House passed in February—and which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to allow the Senate to vote on.
"We're the only industrialized country in the world where you can go in and you can buy an assault-style weapon and you can buy a magazine that carries 100 or more rounds, and you can get that for about $200," said Kris Brown, president of the gun control group Brady. "That's what happened in Dayton, that's what we saw happen in El Paso, and why is that? Because they're designed to kill as many people as humanly possible as quickly as possible."
"We are arming hate," Brown added.
— Brady (@bradybuzz) August 6, 2019
"Our organizations are united in saying that members of Congress can no longer look away as communities of color and religious minorities are murdered with impunity," read the groups' joint statement. "It is not enough for Republican leadership in Congress to offer thoughts and prayers, nor should they repeatedly blame gun violence on mental illness—an unfounded and harmful trope. We must all unite and demand accountability."
On social media, supporters of the protest tweeted using the hashtag #WhiteSupremacyKills to call on lawmakers to introduce concrete federal reforms to stem the rise of the white nationalist movement which has become increasingly visible under Trump—at 2017's deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia; in the mass shootings in El Paso and Pittsburgh; and at Trump's rallies, where the president has recently encouraged racist chants and comments from his supporters.
We’ve had it with white supremacy and gun violence. We rallied today, alongside other great orgs, to stand against a racist President w/ blood on his hands. We’re here to fight for y’all, and we’re gonna continue fighting each and every day #SomosElPaso #WhiteSupremacyKills pic.twitter.com/Wum877hQMz
— Voto Latino (@votolatino) August 6, 2019
— PC(USA) Office of Public Witness (@PCUSAWashington) August 6, 2019
— Stop Hate Project (@StopHateProj) August 6, 2019