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Uvalde Residents Reckon With Gun Violence in Their Community


In the Town Square in Uvalde, Texas, 21 crosses stand in rows, every bearing the title of somebody killed by the gunman who stormed Robb Elementary School on May 24. They’re about two toes excessive, with child blue, heart-shaped plaques glued to the highest. Sharpie pens are hooked up to every of them on a string, so members of the neighborhood can write messages of condolence and love.

“I will always love you my beautiful granddaughter” is written on the memorial for Layla Salazar, a 10-year-old sufferer of the taking pictures. It’s signed “Grandmom.”

If the scene is heartbreaking, to some Latino Texans it additionally feels tragically acquainted. It’s harking back to the home made crosses bearing names that individuals gathered round in El Paso, Texas, after a gunman killed 23 individuals at a Walmart on August 10, 2019 within the deadliest assault on Latinos in latest U.S. historical past.

After that taking pictures, individuals in Uvalde gathered collectively in prayer teams for El Paso, says Sue Rankin, a seven-year resident of Uvalde who participated in a prayer three years in the past. Now, individuals in close by communities are praying for Uvalde as an alternative. “We never thought this would happen here,” Rankin says. “I see so many people coming together.”

Read extra: ‘We Won’t Let These Babies Be Forgotten.’ Close-Knit Uvalde Community Grieves After Elementary School Shooting

Though to this point there haven’t been any indications that the shooter’s actions had been racially motivated, a lot of the victims within the Uvalde taking pictures had been Latinos. Nearly 90% of the scholars who attend Robb Elementary School are Latinos, based on Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District information. Nationally, greater than 4,100 Latinos die every year from gun violence, are two occasions extra prone to die of gun murder within the U.S. than white individuals, and are 4 occasions extra prone to be wounded by a gun than white individuals, based on Everytown For Gun Safety, a nonprofit group that advocates for stricter gun management measures and researches gun violence. (The affect of gun violence on Latinos comes second solely to the quantity of gun violence inflicted on Black individuals in America.)

Despite the bloodbath in El Paso, different mass shootings within the state in recent times, and the grim statistics, a number of members of the Uvalde neighborhood say their small city all the time felt like a secure haven. But Tuesday’s violence is now forcing a reckoning amongst some Uvalde residents over the gun legal guidelines in Texas, that are a number of the most permissive within the nation.

“Canada doesn’t have school shootings, the UK hasn’t had a shooting since it enacted gun control laws…and there were red flags going up all over the place for this [shooter],” says Robert Dennis, who was born and raised in Uvalde and says he has all the time supported proudly owning weapons. “My ideas about gun ownership are changing.” Dennis went to the middle of city to jot down “You will be missed” on every of the 21 memorials Thursday morning.

Uvalde is a quiet neighborhood, says resident Sofia Aguilar, with comparatively little gun violence regardless of the pervasive looking tradition and recognition of weapons within the city. Aguilar says she helps stricter gun management measures. “I’m very distraught,” she says. “People are buying guns to hurt other people.” Aguilar knew one of many victims, 10-year-old Jacklyn Cazares. She wept when she discovered Jacklyn’s cross in Town Square.

Read extra: These Are the Victims of the Uvalde, Texas, School Shooting

Uvalde County Commissioner Ronald “Ronnie” Garza, who attended Robb Elementary as a child, says he was additionally shocked that violence of this nature would happen in Uvalde. “Like any small town, we’ll have an incident here or there, but this is just tragic,” Garza says. He is asking on Texas officers to help stricter gun management measures like background checks and age limits. “The current system isn’t working,” he says. “Something has to be done. We can’t accept the status quo.”

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Write to Jasmine Aguilera at jasmine.aguilera@time.com.



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