CHICAGO (CBS/CBS News/AP) — A crowd gathered in Pilsen Wednesday night to hold a vigil for the 22 people who were gunned down in El Paso, Texas this past weekend.A crowd gathered in Pilsen Wednesday night to hold a vigil for the 22 people who were gunned down in El Paso, Texas this past weekend.
A group led by former El Paso residents who now live in Chicago assembled the vigil in Harrison Park, 1824 S. Wood St. They were joined by an assortment of other mourners and activist groups.
On Saturday, a gunman opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso. By Monday, a total of 22 people had died.
The suspected gunman, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, has been booked on capital murder charges and is being held without bond, according to the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office.
In a racist manifesto Crusius allegedly wrote, he expressed support for the Christchurch, New Zealand mosque shooter and denounced the increasing Hispanic population in Texas.
At the Pilsen vigil, El Paso native Chantal Diaz called on people to unite in mourning and solidarity in the wake of the attack.
“As a Hispanic, Latino, Latinx community, we stand together against racism, xenophobia – everything that is hate, we are against,” she said. “We are also here to come together and be proud of one another, to love, to continue to love one another, and support each and every one of us, because we are all human beings, and we all have a right to be here – all of us, together.”
She also characterized El Paso as a unique city where Mexican and American culture meld together seamlessly, and where local residents embrace all with open arms, look after one another, and comfort those in need.
“To imagine that someone came to break that safe space; that frontera, full of hate — odio – it’s really hard to imagine,” Diaz said.
Diaz said she was well familiar with the Cielo Vista Mall where the attack took place, and was worried for her own family this past Saturday.
“Saturday was one of the worst days of my life – not knowing if my family and friends were alive, being in Chicago and stuck here. My battery was on 5 percent. I couldn’t reach anybody,” she said.
Diaz called on everyone to come together and fight for “our basic human rights.”
“The right to go back-to-school shopping without fear, the right to attend a nightclub and enjoy life, the right to send my child off to school without fear that every goodbye might be my last,” she said. “Premeditated murder – a planned assassination based off of hatred for a specific group – is not a mental illness. It is a societal illness that is spread by hate, rhetoric, and division.”
Diaz called for a world where her son could “express himself in English and Spanish and French – whatever language he wants, without judgment; be whomever he wants; love whomever he wants – in peace, without fear or worry.”
Eddie Gamboa, also an El Paso native took issue with the Trump administration’s family separation policies at the border, saying “men with guns” who he considered likewise to be invaders to El Paso were the ones carrying out the separations.
“Whether you’re from El Paso or Chicago, whether you’re from Baltimore or Gilroy, whether you’re from Daytona — any of the places that I haven’t named, either because I can’t remember them all now or because they haven’t happened yet – I want to welcome you as an El Pasoan to El Paso,” Gamboa said. “I want to welcome you to a movement that is starting in a place that I call home that extends everywhere else, to all of our homes.”
Another El Paso native, who identified herself as Claudette, said her father had been in the Walmart working as a stock man right before the massacre started.
“I can hear from talking to him and family and friends processing how this really puts into perspective a lot of things and life for a lot of people in El Paso,” Claudette said. “There’ as mixture of emotions that occur when you not only have a connection to the city, but you have a connection o the family and friends that tare close to that shooting.”
She said most distressingly, she and many other black and brown people now feel like they are targets.
“We need to be aware that now as communities – all communities of color, but the Latinx communities – to make a choice on what we’re going to do about this and what we’re going to go with now, because this is unavoidable. It’s now in our face that we have to make a choice about what path we’re going to take to combat this, and to make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” Claudette said.
Loreen Targos, the wife of Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), spoke representing the alderman.
“We are here because we are mourning, but we are here also because we are brought together by our neighbors from El Paso who brought us together to find strength, because that is how we respond to fear. We respond to fear through love – through love of our neighbors,” Targos said, “and that is not how white supremacists to fear. White supremacists respond to fear with hate, and that is what happened in El Paso.”
President Donald Trump visited El Paso on Wednesday, as well as Dayton, Ohio where another shooting left nine people dead early Sunday. In El Paso, clashes broke out between people who were glad for Trump’s presence and those who preferred that he would have stayed away.
Trump, who has been criticized for the language he has used against immigrants, defended his rhetoric on Wednesday before leaving the White House, claiming it “brings people together.” Politicians in Texas, including Rep. Veronica Escobar and Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, have harshly criticized the president over his rhetoric about immigrants. But Mr. Trump slammed his critics Wednesday, and insisted his rhetoric unites people rather than divides them.
Before leaving for the day trip, Trump also said he’s very concerned about white supremacists and any kind of hatred that leads to violence.
“Any group of hate, whether it’s white supremacy, whether it’s any other kind of supremacy whether it’s Antifa, whether it’s any group of hate, I am very concerned about it and I’ll do something about it.”
Vigils have been held for the shooting victims in both cities. But Americans in other cities around the country have also gathered to offer their support. Hundreds held vigil outside the National Rifle Association headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, urging stricter gun control measures and an end to mass shootings.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CBS News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)