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A woman touches a cross at a makeshift memorial for victims outside Walmart, near the scene of a mass shooting which left at least 22 people dead, on August 6, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. A 21-year-old white male suspect remains in custody in El Paso, which sits along the U.S.-Mexico border. President Donald Trump plans to visit the city August 7. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
A woman touches a cross at a makeshift memorial for victims outside Walmart, near the scene of a mass shooting which left at least 22 people dead, on August 6, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. A 21-year-old white male suspect remains in custody in El Paso, which…

MALDEF announces program to combat open bias and racism against Latinos

The new initiative was announced on the 2nd anniversary of the attack on Latinos in El Paso.

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May 26th, 2022

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It’s been two years since a deadly hate-motivated attack happened in El Paso, Texas on Aug. 3, 2019. On the second anniversary of the shooting, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) announced the launch of a new initiative to combat bias and racism against Latinos.

MALDEF’s launch of the Freedom from Open and Obvious Bias and Racism initiative will “focus on addressing and reducing the rise in hate crimes rooted in anti-Latino sentiments, including discriminatory policing policies that encourage or tolerate racism,” the press release stated. 

“As the largest racial minority group in the country, Latinos have faced, and will continue to face, very serious impacts from the increased tolerance of white nationalism in the United States,” said MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz.

The shooting in El Paso shook the lives of thousands of people across the country as it took the lives of 23 Latinos and injured over two dozen at a Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall.

“As the legal voice of our community, MALDEF staff will use our legal skill and advocacy experience to prevent and eliminate the effects of obvious racism and bias throughout our society, including within law enforcement, where such thinking is at its most dangerous,” Saenz said. 

The hope that public violence, hate speech and racism against Latinos comes to a stop through the program.

“Racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Latino rhetoric spewed by public officials inspired a gunman to kill 23 people two years ago in El Paso,” said MALDEF Board President Marcus Allen. “Today, many politicians and elected officials continue to demonize Latinos for political gain. It is up to us to put a stop to the kind of public hate speech that radicalizes a person to kill.”

According to MALDEF, anti-Latino sentiment and hate crimes targeting the Latino community has risen since former president Donald Trump took office in 2016. 

The El Paso attack was the manifestation of that deliberate targeting.

“El Paso is the deadliest hate-motivated mass murder of Latinos in modern history. The shooter was charged with capital murder after he drove more than 10 hours to kill Latinos, posting an anti-Latino screed online shortly before the mass shooting,” the press release explained. 

However, MALDEF is determined to continue to work towards protecting the rights of Latinos in education, employment, immigrants’ rights, and voting rights, and now will join the fight against open racism on the Latino community. 

As El Pasoans have continued to feel the impact of the shooting, as the community’s population is mostly comprised of Latinos, MALDEF’s program aims to not only help prevent such racist led attacks, but eliminate the effects that racism and bias has on our society. 

“I invite you to join me in supporting the launch of MALDEF’s new national initiative to legally and peacefully combat and focus on open and obvious bias and racism, so that what occurred at the Walmart massacre on August 3 two years ago in our El Paso community by a white supremacist sympathizer will not happen again,” said attorney Enrique Chavez Jr., a MALDEF board member and a resident of El Paso.

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