We can’t allow ourselves to become numb to the pain. It’s not just another shooting, whether it happens in El Paso, Dayton – or right here in Gilroy.
These slaughters of innocent people are part of an all-out assault on our society that has been stoked by President Trump and his reckless rhetoric that is driving white supremacists and neo-fascists to take up arms against immigrants, people of color, Jews, the LBGTQ community and others that they mistakenly blame for their problems.
Even here in our own community, in one of the most diverse places in the country, people are afraid because they can become a target of hate simply because of how they look. No simple trip to the grocery store, mall or festival can go without the terror of “what if” something happens.
There have always been bullies and racists in America. But today, those bullies are emboldened by President Trump and his racist language. In El Paso, the shooter virtually quoted President Trump. Right here in Gilroy, the murderer posted on the internet that he was inspired by a fascist screed that promoted racial hatred and anti-Semitic views.
Make no mistake; this was no coincidence or accident. Instead of hunting big game, these killers were out hunting “Mexicans” – people of color. They were hunting our children and families. They have dehumanized us. Sadly, our children must be hyper vigilant when they leave the house. Going to school, church or mall is no longer business as usual.
And now thanks to the National Rifle Association (NRA), these hunters are not armed with shotguns, they are armed with assault rifles – the weapons of war. President Trump claims that access to guns is not the problem – this is a mental health problem. Yet in America, guns account for 73% of the homicides – compared to 3% in England. Does America really have 24 times the mental health problems of England?
President Trump has focused on rounding up immigrants and attacking the Latino and Muslim communities in the United States. His Justice Department has deemphasized tracking white nationalists and others who foment domestic terror.
This lethal combination is legitimizing the anger of racists. By refusing to expand background checks and red flag laws that would keep guns out of the hands of those perpetrating domestic violence, the President and his allies in Congress are literally unleashing a torrent of hate and violence across America.
Our children deserve to live free of fear. We must ACT! The longer we wait, the more detrimental it will be to our children’s futures.
We can and must do more at the local level and state level to protect ourselves. Our state and local law enforcement must step up to fill the gap left by the federal government by monitoring hate on the Internet. Posting to hate sites like 8chan has been the common denominator for many of these crimes.
Locally, the community depends on elected leaders to implement bold policies to solve our toughest problems. That’s why I have partnered with Supervisor Cindy Chavez and Councilmembers Maya Esparza, Sylvia Arenas and Pam Foley to introduce a proposal to create a Hate Crimes Task Force convened by the County, to develop recommendations to address hate crime, racism and violence incited by hate speech in our community. This proposal was passed by the City of San José Rules Committee last Wednesday and will go before the full City Council soon.
The Task Force will explore hate crime impacts on local communities, develop recommendations for law enforcement to combat the illegal gun trade and to monitor the increase of hate speech and recommend school-based programs to promote positive change around hate crimes and violence.
I encourage the Board of Supervisors and City Council to pass this proposal as quickly as possible so that we can get to work. We can’t afford to wait any longer.
And yes, we must all do everything we can in 2020 to drive President Trump from office. Another four years of legitimizing hate, racism and scapegoating of the innocent could be the tipping point for our nation.
The fascism that America defeated in World War II – driving Nazism from Europe – is on the verge of being unleashed on our shores. President Trump’s authoritarian instincts lead him to believe he is “the chosen one” making him a threat to the very principles our country was founded upon. The forces gathering around him must be stopped before the freedoms we have won – the progressive values that have long defined the best of America – will be a thing of the past.