El Paso and Dayton Mass Shootings Spur Conversation About White Nationalist Extremism


Andres Leighton / AP

Edie Hallberg searches for her mother after a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

Raquel Perry, Reporter

Once again, our hearts are devastated by two more mass shootings that occurred this summer. In less than 24 hours, two American cities were targeted by a senseless act of gun violence. On Saturday, August 3rd,  21 lives were lost and 26 were injured in a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. Early on Sunday, August 4th, 9 people were killed and 26 were injured in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. At least 31 people were dead and about 50 injured. These events shook a nation that seems to have grown accustomed to mass shootings in public places and sparked discussion about the problem of gun violence in America.

In El Paso, Texas, Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old white supremacist suspected of carrying out the shooting with an AK-style semiautomatic rifle, said that he wanted to stop a “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” according to a political document. He had been charged with possible hate crime and capital murder and is being held without bond, according to court documents.

Hours after the El Paso shooting, a gunman, identified as Connor Betts, opened fire in a nightlife district in Dayton, Ohio.  The suspect was killed by police within about 30 seconds of opening fire, according to CNN. Authorities found that Betts had shown an interest in killing people from specific writings about his motive, according to two federal law enforcement sources. However, the sources say that the writings did not indicate any racial or political motive.

On Monday, August 5th, Trump addressed the attacks stating that the nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. “There are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people.” However, many believe that Trump helped fuel the Texas shooter’s motives with his own rhetoric. Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, a former congressman from El Paso, called Trump a racist and firmly believes that his rhetoric encourages violence.

“This president is encouraging greater racism and not just the racist rhetoric, but the violence that so often follows,” O’Rourke said in an interview with CNN’s “State of The Union” on Sunday.

At the same time, many people are wondering what politicians and Democrats will do about gun violence. Many Democrats have called for increased restrictions on gun ownership in the U.S. But what does this do for the growing problem of white nationalist extremism and terrorism in America?

Mayor Pete Buttigieg said America is “under attack from white nationalist terrorism, inspiring murder on our soil and abetted by weak gun laws.”