Editors note: El Pasoans living across the country sent messages of encouragement, kindness and solidarity to the Sun City after the shooting at the Cielo Vista Walmart. Here are some of their words.
From 600 miles away the members of the El Paso in Austin Network are mourning and thinking of you every day. El Pasoans in Austin have stepped up and hosted several vigils, memorials, fundraisers around the city and many more to come. This tragedy will not break our spirits but it will make us stronger. El Paso, we are with you. You raised us and gave us roots. No matter where we are near or far, El Paso you’re always in our hearts.
– Linda Medina-Lopez, a Montwood High School and UTEP graduate, is the co-founder of the El Paso in Austin Network.
Are you from El Paso? Simple enough to answer, you might think. Not today.
Geologically: Yes, I can point to a map and tell you “there” is El Paso. That’s where I am from.
But El Paso is not a place; it is not contained within boundaries drawn on a map. El Paso is a feeling. It’s almost a verb.
The cold mug in my hand lands blunt on the bar in this old mill building in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I turn to look at the gentlemen next to me as if to say, “Isn’t it obvious?” Yes! El Paso is a swagger, a particular attitude, an aura of confidence, dangerously bordering on conceit if not checked.
It is a humility, forged by centuries of struggle, of hard work, of hardship, victory and the lessons of failure. El Paso is not just a dot on a map pegged onto a run down truck stop, El Paso is a railroad spike driven into your heart, never to be removed. It goes with you, it talks to you, many times it carries you.
I make El Paso. YOU make El Paso. It is a collective of hearts tempered and sun dried, unyielding in its effort to make it.
Get a flat tire in El Paso and find a line of cars fighting to see who’s going to help you first; see a kid get sick and find the Eastside on the same field as the Westside lined up to see who is a match donor; have a family’s house burn down and the Northeast will sling a hammer with Southside/Central to rebuild.
My friend’s eyes are locked on me now as I explain; my voice is breaking. My eyes are no longer the only ones glistening.
Every fiber in the being that makes me El Paso wants to find this shooter, rant about his rhetoric, give him his undeserved fame. A younger me would already be in route and his darkness would have prevailed.
El Paso is a light, a light that is in me – in us. Shine today; shine EVERYDAY. Drown that spec of darkness with that light that populates your heart. You can’t kill El Paso; it’s a star on a mountain that cannot be shut off.
It is impossible to verbalize El Paso. My feeble attempt ends just as his beer does. He leaves before his tears betray him and spares me the embarrassment of mine. He pauses only to say: “George, today I am from El Paso, too.” I raise my glass to him, never having caught his name.
Had I written this only a mere 15 hours later, I would have had a better answer for him. I would have said, “Hey, today I am from Dayton also.” Dayton, Ohio, is his hometown.
Fifteen hours later our roles would have reversed; he would be sitting in my chair, and I would be hearing about his hometown.
Shine today. Shine light every day!
– George H. Santillan lives in Arlington, Texas. He was visiting Minneapolis, Minnesota the day of the mass shooting.
I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, and I want to tell you about my city, a border town known as one of the safest cities in America. More importantly, amazing people, the culture, the love, the food, the sports fans, the families.
It’s a strong community, and it reminds me a lot of Boston. And what you’re gonna hear soon is who we lost and what great people they were. We already know one woman died shielding her two-month old, who this shooter apparently hated because they were Latino. No, they were normal people, who just wanted to shop on a Saturday.
Let’s come together from top to bottom, speak out against this hate, send these monsters back to their hole. Maybe, just maybe, convince them that this is America and all races and cultures are welcome here.
My heart is broken now. I love this city. I know they’ll be strong. Good night.
– Former El Paso sports anchor Raul Martinez. Partial transcript of a video posted Sunday night that closed the late news on the NBC station in Boston
El Paso is the kind of place where people invite you into their home for dinner or bring you fresh pastries (or if you’re lucky, burritos) while you’re out on a story. It’s the type of place where the residents love their city and are proud to introduce you to all aspects of it. In fact, by being invited into the homes of one big, loving family, I met my fiancé, Josh. He’s my best friend, and I have El Paso to thank for him. He grew up there, most his family – now my family – lives there.
And it’s a place where you feel safe. Contrary to belief, El Paso consistently ranks among the top safest cities in all of America. ALL of America! It ALWAYS felt that way living there.
The person who committed this crime wasn’t a resident of the culturally rich, loving, beautiful border town. They were someone from another town who appears to have been motivated to act out of hate.
But El Paso’s love is stronger than that hate. It always will be.
Tonight, I mourn with the community and pray you’ll look at El Paso as a place of beauty touched by darkness – but not forever dark.
Next time you drive through, don’t just pass by. Make a stop. Meet the people. Try the food and experience the city. You won’t regret it, and I promise, no matter what they’ve gone through, they’ll treat you right. It’s the El Paso way.
– Former KVIA meteorologist Krystal Klei
I think at this moment in the American horror story of hate, Paseños will not just disappear into history – but prove to be a forceful turning point. If white hate is the unstoppable force, El Paso symbolizes the immovable object: Latino America, 60 million strong and counting.
– Richard Parker, El Pasoan and journalist, writing in the Houston Chronicle