EL PASO, Texas – Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke joined a group Saturday marching in opposition to President Donald Trump’s “white supremacist rhetoric and policies.”
The March for a United America, organized by the League of United Latin American Citizens, began Saturday morning at Armijo Park and ended at the El Paso County Courthouse, where the suspected Walmart shooter is currently being jailed.
The march ended with a rally across the street from the courthouse where O’Rourke overlooked a sea of white T-shirts that popped against the brown backdrop. Attendees were asked to wear the color white to symbolize peace.
“Our differences don’t define us ... but in fact make us stronger,” the former congressman said. “And I think it offers a lesson to a very divided, very polarized country right now being driven further apart every day by a president who operates on fear and paranoia and lies.”
According to a release about the event, LULAC has blamed the president for “deliberately feeding into the anti-immigrant frenzy and white supremacist violence.”
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Although the event description singled out the president, other politicians and advocates who spoke at the rally chose to focus on the Latino community and it’s fight against intolerance.
Texas state Sen. José Rodríguez, a Democrat from El Paso, said the Walmart mass shooting last week that killed 22 people and injured 25 is not the first act of violence against Hispanics.
Police say the killings were carried out by a 21-year-old white man from suburban Dallas who posted an online screed saying it was a response to an "invasion" of Hispanics coming across the U.S. southern border.
“This has been going on for a long time,” Rodríguez said right before the march began. “We’ve engaged in a struggle as brown people ever since the founding of this country.”
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Other attendees echoed the senator’s sentiment saying that the recent string of violence is bigger than the president’s words.
“We cannot just focus on Donald Trump,” said Nidu Alonso Day, 60, a recent El Paso transplant from Los Angeles. “He represents a movement in this country that is very divisive (and) filled with hate.”
El Paso native Cisa Rivera, who attended the event with her husband, Roberto Johansson, says last weekend’s tragedy is a loss for the entire city. She went to high school with the daughter of one of the victims, Angelina Silva Englibee.
Rivera says seeing her on television made her think of her own mother.
“My mother could have just as easily been in that Walmart as hers,” she said. “I’m still so stressed about the event that I can’t visit the makeshift memorial. It’s still too raw for me.”
Contributing: Associated Press. Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: El Paso Walmart shooting: Beto O’ Rourke decries Trump rhetoric at march