Race Forward Statement on White Nationalist Domestic Terrorist Attacks in El Paso, Texas and Across The Country

We are reeling from the most recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. In just a matter of hours, at least twenty-nine people were gunned down, scores more wounded, and two communities were forever changed by mass violence. These events come just a week after four were killed and twelve injured in another mass killing in Gilroy, California.

We stand in solidarity with all of those affected and their families in their time of unimaginable grief. We call upon local, state, and the federal government to act urgently to address the issue of domestic terrorism. 

We also underscore that all of these attacks occurred in cities that are a majority or have a large plurality of people of color. Two of these cities have large immigrant populations. The murder suspect in El Paso issued a hate manifesto on the internet before driving to a crowded shopping center to target Latinx victims. The suspect in Gilroy was known to promote white supremacist literature.

These shootings have occurred as President Trump continues his platform of mobilizing racist hatred, part of a political playbook that is as old as American politics. He recently called for four elected congresswomen of color to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” He called Representative Elijah Cummings’ district—home predominantly to people of color—“disgusting”, “rodent-infested” and “dangerous.” Trump supporters reacted to his insults of Representative Ilhan Omar with chants of “Send her back!”

We believe it is impossible to separate the way that white nationalist violence, racist hatred, and easy access to deadly weaponry have come together to threaten the safety of communities across the United States, no matter our background. Racist hatred makes all of us less safe.

Domestic terrorism is one of the deadliest sources of mass murder in America. In 2018, white nationalists perpetrated 78% of extremist murders. The overwhelming number of domestic terrorism arrests involve white nationalists. Yet there is no criminal charge for domestic terrorism. No government agency systematically tracks domestic terrorism. Instead, the Federal government has sought to target with surveillance Black Lives Matter organizations, and other organizations working for racial justice, while we all experience an epidemic of deadly violence, led by white nationalists. 

Gun control is necessary but not enough. We call upon elected officials to urgently address the clear links between mass murder and racist hatred directed against people of color. We call upon communities to advance our shared values of wellness, protection, and mutuality. We follow the leadership of those who have been most impacted and are most at-risk for white nationalist violence. But we recognize this is a problem that affects all of us, no matter our background. Our national security and safety depends upon us addressing the violence of racial hatred.