Beto was already fired up from speaking at a vigil for the victims of the El Paso massacre when a reporter asked what President Trump could do. The Texas politician let loose.
“He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. Members of the press, what the fuck?” said O’Rourke, who represented El Paso as a member of Congress and is now running for president, at a Sunday night gathering near the shooting site. “It’s these questions that you know the answers to. I mean, connect the dots about what [Trump’s] been doing in this country: He's not tolerating racism; he's promoting racism. He's not tolerating violence; he's inciting racism and violence in this country.”
The suspected shooter, a 21-year-old white male, made a 10-hour trip from his suburban Dallas home to the Texas border city, whose population of over 600,000 is about 83 percent Hispanic. The shooter posted on 8chan an anti-immigrant manifesto about “the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” espousing pro-Trump ideologies, just moments before he opened fire at the Walmart Saturday morning, killing 22 and injuring many more.
O’Rourke had just delivered an impassioned speech during a vigil outside the Las Americas headquarters in El Paso. He ranted to the grieving audience that President Trump’s language perpetuates mass violence, and he pressed for more gun control measures, including red flag laws that confiscate guns from at-risk individuals. "[The shooter] was from half a state away, bringing that fear, bringing that anger, bringing that hatred, and bringing that racism. And the gun," he said.
During past campaign stops, Beto has opposed the president while denouncing the dangerous conditions at migrant detention centers. In the Democrat presidential debates in Detroit last week, O’Rourke advocated for calling Trump’s racism out as a way to reckon with the country’s racial divide.
“We have a president right now who traffics in this hatred, who incites this violence, who calls Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, calls asylum-seekers animals and an infestation,” he said from the debate stage.
Trump has repeatedly used the words invasion and infestation in statements about immigrants, and he's blamed Democrats for blocking his immigration-reform efforts.
“They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13,” Trump said in a June tweet.
Cover: Presidential candidate and former congressman Beto O'Rourke speaks with the media outside the Walmart store in the aftermath of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)