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Local LULAC council supports El Paso shooting victims

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Pictured is the League of United Latin American Citizens’ “March for a United America” event in El Paso, Texas on Aug. 10. LULAC President Domingo Garcia, fourth from left, gives a speech, and Beto O'Rourke is also on stage, third from right. (Arrem Garcia Photo)

Roswell’s Council 8051 and other League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) groups rallied in El Paso for LULAC’s “March for a United America” on Aug. 10.

The three participants from Roswell’s Council 8051 were Richard, Virginia and Arrem Garcia.

Richard Garcia, District 2 LULAC director, and Dr. Juan Garcia, LULAC state director for New Mexico, shared how LULAC showed support for residents of El Paso and Juarez affected by the Aug. 23 shooting at a Walmart in El Paso that left 22 people dead and 24 people injured.

With LULAC in existence for 90 years, Richard Garcia said the fight for civil rights, education, immigration, healthcare and political activity still continues. As District 2 director, Richard Garcia oversees southeastern New Mexico.

Dr. Juan Garcia estimated that 50 LULAC members from around New Mexico showed up for the march. Other LULAC councils — from Ruidoso, Alamogordo, Carlsbad, Clovis, Hobbs, Las Cruces, Albuquerque and other Texas cities — were also present.

In total, Richard Garcia estimated that 400 people marched that Saturday morning from El Paso’s Armijo Park at 710 E. Seventh Ave. — close to the Mexican border — to the El Paso County Courthouse at 500 E. San Antonio Ave.

“The march was everybody repeating what was said — that El Paso was strong, that we’re united, that we’re here to stay,” Richard Garcia said. “‘Estamos aquí no nos vamos.’ That was the shouting from the beginning to the end. It resonated with everybody. …”

Dr. Juan Garcia said Domingo Garcia, the national president for LULAC, called for the unity march and a LULAC press release asked participants to wear white “to symbolize peace.”

“Intimately, our neighbors are El Paso and Juarez,” Dr. Juan Garcia said. “And so, we felt a special kinship to what happened in El Paso. We organized and wanted to show the El Pasoans that we support them — the same thing for the Juarez community — that we are there with them and we wanted to give our most heartfelt regrets to the El Paso community.”

Dr. Juan Garcia said Beto O’Rourke, presidential hopeful and former congressman from El Paso, and Domingo Garcia spoke about how the shooting wouldn’t be forgotten and urged for more prevention of domestic terrorism.

Some moments that stood out to Richard Garcia were talking with Jennifer Coca Garcia, a victim whose husband was still hospitalized from the shooting, and briefly meeting O’Rourke and California Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

A “mix of a beautiful rainbow of colors of unity, of sadness and of hope” is how Richard Garcia described the emotional rally and speeches after the march.

“It was double-edged feeling,” Dr. Juan Garcia said. “One, it was a good feeling of seeing everybody there from all walks of life. All ethnicities were shown there. Some denominational people were there as well. It was a good feeling to show our sympathies, but also a very somber feeling.

“That was the first time we had been there since the shooting, and being in the city itself, you could feel the sorrow. It was really eye-opening when we heard some of the testimonies of victims’ relatives, so it was a good thing. But also, it was a somber event.”

Richard Garcia said there were members of the Mexican consulate present at the march for those from Juarez who died in the shooting, while funerals and other vigils were being held that weekend.

Dr. Juan Garcia recalled Domingo Garcia said “a target” has been placed on the backs of Latinos, Mexicans and Spanish-speakers by the current administration.

“Again, we’re not going away,” Richard Garcia said. “It’s just like this sign right here — ‘Unidos contra el odio.’ That means united against hate. No truer words. No truer words.”

Special projects reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.