EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The City of El Paso and a human-rights nonprofit have announced events to honor the victims of the racially motivated Aug. 3, 2019, mass shooting and their families.
Mayor Oscar Leeser, Mexican Consul General Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de Leon and other dignitaries will participate in a bell-tolling ceremony at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Crime Victims Memorial Park, 610 San Paulo Drive. The bell will ring for each of the 23 fatal victims of a gunman who drove 10 hours from North Texas to “kill Mexicans” almost four years ago.
Twenty-two other people were wounded in the attack. Most of the victims were American citizens. A federal judge earlier this month sentenced the gunman to 90 consecutive terms of life in prison for hate crimes in connection to the massacre.
Members of the El Paso City Council and the El Paso County Commissioners’ Court are scheduled to join a coalition of civil rights organizations in a procession with crosses from Ponder Park, 7500 Burges Drive, to the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall, the site of the massacre.
The El Paso Firme events begin at 9:15 a.m. on Thursday.
“As we approach the fourth anniversary of this horrific, white supremacist attack, we hope to offer a space of community healing and resistance,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of Border Network for Human Rights, the event organizer. “We cannot forget that this massacre occurred as a result of weak gun-control laws and the spread of hateful, white supremacist and xenophobic rhetoric toward immigrants of color and minorities.”
County officials will lead the Day of Resilience Ceremony, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the El Paso Healing Garden at Ascarate Park, 6900 Delta Drive. It begins with a meditation, yoga and sound bath session, a performance by ProMusica at 7 p.m., and the 8 p.m. name-reading and light beam ceremony.
County Commissioners Court on Monday approved a resolution declaring next Thursday as “El Paso Day of Remembrance.” County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said it’s important to remember and honor the victims every year and that the Healing Garden stands as a “beacon of hope” for the community.
“More than just a memorial, the Healing Garden is a testament to an undying spirit of unity and resiliency that arises in the face of tragedy,” Samaniego said as he read from the resolution.
Other events, some of them ongoing, include:
- Unite with Light, in which some city landmarks, bridges and buildings will be illuminated at night with orange light in remembrance of the victims. The lights are on through August 5.
- Art displays in honor of crime victims at Judge Marquez Library, 610 N. Yarbrough Drive (August 3), El Paso Museum of Art, 1 Arts Festival Plaza (Aug. 3-Aug. 31), and the Armijo Branch Library, 620 E. 7th Ave. (Aug. 3).
- Live Active El Paso and United Way of El Paso County are having meditation and sound bath sessions nightly at various locales through August 2.