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Iowa Latino Community Responds to Mass Shooting in El Paso

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, shook the Latino community all over the world, including in Iowa.

One Des Moines Latina mom said the news was devastating.

“I was just mortified, but at the same time it’s not surprising that something like this happened and that doesn’t make it any less tragic or any less painful. It’s absolutely devastating to know something like this happened and I feel awful for the families but I’m also really angry,” Veronica Guevara said.

Joe Henry, the president of the Iowa League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), said the Latino community is very concerned.

“In El Paso, many Latino families are afraid to even leave their homes, not knowing what’s going to happen next. We are speaking out. Even though this has created a chilling effect, we are speaking out and making our voices heard,” Henry said.

Guevara said this incident only intensifies the fear, anger and sadness many in the Latino community were already feeling.

“Guns are everywhere in Iowa. They are everywhere in this country and I used to not be as scared, but now I am especially now that it’s more targeted, now that I have my small daughter with me. It is scary, but I don’t intend to accommodate anyone who may feel uncomfortable with my presence or my family's presence,” Guevara said.

Guevara said her family has dealt with hateful violence before when her father and his tree cutting crew were on a job in rural Iowa.

"A woman confronted him and his crew at gunpoint because she was sleeping and they disturbed her sleep. When he told me, he was kind of laughing about it because I feel like that’s how he copes with things, but I was really upset. I’m like 'we need to file a report. This is not OK,'" Guevara said.

LULAC is calling on legislators on all levels to stop hateful rhetoric and introduce legislation to try and end the violence.

“We need the legislation here in the state of Iowa. Here in Des Moines, the city council needs to act. There’s been a discussion on gun control and it was tabled. We need to go back. We have one city council person, Josh Mandelbaum, who has tried to get this issue addressed by the city council, and hopefully now the council will address this and move forward on some form of gun control,” Henry said.

LULAC, the NAACP and the Latinx Immigrants of Iowa are hosting a vigil to honor victims of gun violence this Friday at 6 p.m. on the west side of the Iowa State Capitol grounds.

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