Stand up for humanity and against bigotry
As I read the news out of El Paso and Dayton last week, I was reminded of a similar tragedy that affected our community 18 years ago. On July 3, 2001, a man shot and killed four and wounded three in Rifle. All seven of the victims were Latinos, targeted for that very reason.
Even as I write this, I wonder if there may be other mass shootings that will take place before this letter is published. The hatred of the “other” that pulses through our national discourse is playing out in our schools and streets, our synagogues and shopping centers to devastating effect.
As I recall that tragedy in Rifle, I also recall the way the community came together in solidarity to stand up for the dignity of human life. Whites and Latinos marched side by side, reminding us all that this community is big enough, and loving enough, for all of us to have a place.
The past is not past. We live in a world where violence can surface suddenly. But these events are not without warning. National rhetoric is feeding a culture of fear and hatred. We cannot allow these sentiments to penetrate our communities, to affect the way we treat each other.
When we see signs of bigotry and racism surface, we must speak up. It will take all of us, Latinos, whites, longtime residents, and newcomers working together to foster a community of inclusion, that recognizes the humanity of us all.
Executive Director, Valley Settlement