El Paso, TX; Jackson, MS – As we come up upon the one-year mark since the racist violence we witnessed in El Paso, Texas, and in Mississippi last year, families and community leaders are making a call to action to stand up against white supremacy and xenophobia in all its forms. On Thursday morning, advocates and families shared an urgent unity message in a virtual press conference, and announced planned events to commemorate one year since their communities were attacked by racist violence.
“The white supremacy that inspired the domestic terrorist to take 23 lives in El Paso on August 3 last year is the same despicable hatred that inspired ICE to terrorize and raid our communities across Mississippi days later on August 7. It’s the worldview that justifies excluding millions of people from aid during a pandemic – leaving them to get sick and die – because they may be essential, but they are immigrant, Latino, indigenous, undocumented – so they are ‘non-persons’, unworthy of protections or dignity at work.
“A year later, we are still here, still standing, and fighting to unmask the hate that attacked us, to hold those responsible to account, and to demand protections so it can never happen again. From August 3 to 7, we ask that you join us in remembering those not with us, in reflecting on our shared histories of resistance, and in exercising our collective spirit in acts of solidarity and compassion.”
– Statement via BNHR, IAJE, WTM, and NDLON
On Monday and Friday of next week, communities are planning a series of events to honor those that were lost, detained, and deported, and to reaffirm a unified message for a nation now wholly entrenched in a struggle against white nationalism in government.
Fernando García, Executive Director for the Border Network for Human Rights, reminded that August 3, 2019 was the deadliest siege against Latinos and Mexicans in recent history, as a result of the incendiary rhetoric and xenophobic agenda promoted from the White House.
“Let us be very clear: this was not circumstantial or random aggression, but a well-planned action motivated by at least three systemic evils that have been permeating our society and our public lives for the past four years. First, the access to weapons of war in our streets, the ill-conceived and destructive ideology of white supremacism – which is not new, but has re-emerged in our fastly growing diverse and multiracial society – and the very intentional, racist and xenophobic discourse of the president that has distorted the image and contributions of immigrants” expressed García.
The leader of the Border Network for Human Rights emphasized that these narratives fueled the August 3rd attack in El Paso last year that resulted in the brutal killing of 23 members of the community.
“There is a hate that must be unmasked and held to account. This attack was not perpetrated by a mentally disturbed individual as some are quick to say, but somebody that embraced the worse of an American ideology promoted by the highest office of the nation, the Presidency. Yes, Mr. Trump has a lot of responsibility and blame for what happened to our community, and he needs to know that we will not forget it and that we are holding him accountable,” concluded Fernando García.
On August 7, 2019, just days after the shooting, ICE targeted a series of poultry factories in Mississippi in a series of raids that brutally arrested over 680 working people, many of whom had spoken out against abuse, many of whom are still detained, many of whom have been deported, and most of whom are Indigenous peoples.
“Last year, corrupt factory owners colluded with white nationalists in government to round-up, incarcerate, and deport hundreds of people in communities across Mississippi. Why? Because undocumented, immigrant workers had spoken out about workplace discrimination and harassment” Jessica Manrriquez, Immigrant Alliance for Justice & Equity of Mississippi (IAJE) that organizes with families impacted by the raids.
“Entire families were decimated by ICE’s raids, and yet officials have done nothing to ensure that this does not happen, again and again. Undocumented workers in Mississippi, many of them indigenous across the US southern states, are consistently superexploited and systematically abused and brutalized, and yet there are no protections when they speak out,” added Manrriquez of the IAJE.
A year after these attacks, the indignation and resistance continues. The country – and our communities – continues to struggle with the hateful worldview of those in the White House, and the violence that they incite and encourage.
“The despicable hatred that inspired that violence in El Paso raided our communities in Mississippi. Our response is to reaffirm our humanity – our language, our work, our histories of resistance. And to re-commit ourselves to unmask that hatred and those that enable it,” said Lorena Quiroz, Organizer for Working Together MS and founder of the Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity.
The press conference was co-hosted by the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR), the Immigrant Alliance for Justice & Equity of Mississippi (IAJE), and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON).