UVALDE, Texas—A day meant to remember two of those killed in the massacre that took place last week here, the general feeling was anger.
Many in the community find it difficult to properly mourn the 21 lives lost when there seems to be so many injustices And one general lack of trust in those sworn to protect and serve.
“Mistakes were made and we have no promise that they will never happen again,” said Peter Vasquez, a friend of 10-year-old victim Maite Rodriguez. “They brag about all that training and all that equipment and how prepared they are. It all turned out to be lies.
Maite Rodriguez will be laid to rest on Tuesday after a visitation on Monday. A Rosary Mass was to be held Monday evening for Amerie Jo Garza. As the commemorations begin to take place, the grief continues, as does the anger.
“They had to borrow equipment,” said Miguel Flores, a resident of Uvalde. “In 2018, the police department claimed they got a grant to buy equipment for this very thing. Where was this equipment last week when our children needed it? »
Flores was referring to a Facebook post made by the Uvalde Police Department on August 1, 2018, saying he received a grant from Governor Greg Abbott that provided every officer in the department with a level 4 body armor.
In 2017, during the legislative session, Texas taxpayers were asked to foot the bill for a $23 million grant program that sent 453 police jurisdictions across the state the money to buy body armor. level 4 balls that could (and should) have been used during a situation like the one that happened in Uvalde last Tuesday. A state spokesperson said most of that money came from the state’s general fund, but either way, some residents are now wondering if that money was wasted here.
“I guess you can’t buy bravery,” said Javier Cazares, 43, whose daughter, Jacklyn, was killed in the shooting with her cousins. “I mean, I was there just outside and we heard the shooting. We were ready to go in and the police just waited.
The wait was not what these parents and this community expected.
“We’re told all the time that these guys will be there for us when we need them,” Martin Gonzalez said. “Where the hell were they?”
Gonzalez said he wanted to go pay his respects to young Maite Rodriguez on Monday night, but his anger wouldn’t let him.
“I can’t go out there and cry and cry with my friends when I know I have all this anger in my heart,” he said. “These people who blindly trust these officials need to open their eyes.”
Uvalde is not far from the Texas-Mexico border, where Abbott and his fellow hardline Republicans have launched their own border security initiative known as “Operation Lone Star,” in which they use the forces of state order and the National Guard to deter undocumented migrants from crossing the border. . The narrative is that federal forces are weak, fragile, and unable to protect the citizens of the state and country. The governor repeatedly noted the failure of the federal government. In the end, it was these federal agents who helped end the massacre that claimed the lives of 21 people, including 19 children, while local and state law enforcement waited and wondered what to do.
“Thank goodness Border Patrol was there,” Gonzalez said. “If they hadn’t come in and taken over, then maybe more people would have died.”
Sounds of crying filled the streets of Uvalde on Monday afternoon as the community struggled to come to terms with their grief. The hearts of the locals are full of pain, some of which is inflicted by those they thought were trustworthy.
“We never had this kind of mistrust and confusion until they started making Border Patrol monsters,” Gonzalez said. “They are using us as pawns in their political game to get re-elected.”
Angelica Morales sat in the shade of a large oak tree on Monday, trying to find peace amid all the tragedy.
“I can’t help but think that if we had been a predominantly white suburban community, things would have been different,” she said. “We are poor Hispanic families here, and that’s what makes us very different from others.”
She said Hispanics have always been considered the overlooked minority in places like Texas. She added that she didn’t want to talk about race and ethnicity, but in her mind it was hard not to think about it.
“I look at how we compare to Sandy Hook, Parkland, Columbine and the rest,” she said, referring to previous school shooting sites. “The real main difference is our skin color and our ethnic background.”
Morales said she fears things will get worse.
“A lot of the officers who responded were Hispanic,” she said. “It’s like what would happen in Mexico. The so-called ‘good guys’ waited for the bad guys to finish, then they rushed in like heroes. But really, they waited because they were scared.