Official Statement on the Mass Shootings in El Paso and Dayton

Last night, I began writing about the heartbreaking shooting in El Paso only to awake this morning to another shooting, this time in my home state. I want to go on record as condemning, to the fullest extent possible, the premeditated cold blooded murders of 20 El Paso residents and 9 Ohioans. Both shootings clearly establish horrific and dysfunctional motives emboldened by the divisive political rhetoric that has been terrifyingly normalized by our current Presidential administration.

Politics is not a game. What you say and what you do in public office have implications and consequences for other people. As public officials, your judgement must be impeccable, and your actions strategically positioned to protect and serve all communities, not impose inferential or deliberate harm on communities. Malicious race-baiting, life-threatening and inhumane policies that violate inalienable civil and human rights all for the sake of political gain have implications beyond words. But, our nation’s civil rights laws are clear.

Discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin is prohibited by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Even the insinuation of discriminatory behavior or language is prohibited, not only by institutions that receive Federal Financial Assistance, but also extend to the ethical activities of carrying out the duties and responsibilities of acting in the public interest by every federal, state and local representative. These senseless massacres are yet additional escalations of death and violence against marginalized communities in the United States predicated by our lax gun laws and the racist, xeonophobic rhetoric that has become commonplace in our society. Worse still, it was completely avoidable. We need public officials who will stand up and condemn hate speech. We need public officials to advocate and keep fighting for equity, common sense gun safety laws, and the inherent human value of members of the Hispanic community, the LGBTQIA community, the African American community, the Arab community, the Indigenous people’s community, and all communities.

As a Puerto Rican with hundreds of family members still recovering from Hurricane Maria, my heart aches for the nearly 3,000 people who died on the island, and the same 3,000 lives that this administration has callously denied were important or lost due to the lack of emergency response to the island after the storm. The compassionless and desensitized separation of mothers from their children at our border, the deaths from exposure in the immigrant detention camps, the subhuman conditions of the people being held there, and the targeted massacres in El Paso and Dayton set a dangerous precedent of the nationalist populism that threatens the essence of our democracy, the lives of Americans and our first responders, and the spirit of who we are as human beings.

It is all the more important that our local representatives advocate, unaffected by self-interest or politics, steadfastly and unabashedly in commitment to the instance of law and to the diversity that exists in our city and our country. They must protect the rights of every community from disenfranchisement and from harm. Advocacy takes leadership, and it takes an understanding of the issues unique to communities, and the understanding that your thoughts and priorities about communities are reflective in the politics you play and the policies you pass and propose. I agree, and join with Senator Sherrod Brown, who is calling for Mitch McConnell to reconvene the Senate and work in earnest to address gun safety legislatively. The time for learning lessons from these massacres have long passed. The time for action to protect the people of the United States is now.

Thank you to our law enforcement officers in El Paso and Dayton and for their swift action to protect innocent American lives and bring the gunmen to justice. Our public safety officers deserve all our respect and our support for putting their lives on the line to protect our families and communities.

Laura Rodriguez-Carbone