August 04, 2019

Democrats condemn mass shootings – and point finger at Trump
* O’Rourke: ‘We have a problem with white nationalist terror’ * Castro warns of ‘toxic brew’ of white nationalismKamala Harris: ‘We cannot remain idle and allow this level of carnage to ravage our communities. We need courage. We need to act.’ Photograph: Robin Buckson/APTwin mass shootings, 13 hours apart, in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, were swiftly condemned by Democratic politicians.The presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, who formerly represented El Paso in Congress, accused Trump of being a white nationalist, hours after the mass shooting in the city that left 20 dead and more than two dozen injured.“The things that he has said both as a candidate and then as the president of the United States, this cannot be open for debate,” O’Rourke told CNN, referring to Trump’s record of talking publicly about Mexicans as “rapists” and repeatedly referring to an “infestation” of the US when referring to black Americans and Mexican asylum seekers.O’Rourke referred to the testimony of the FBI director, Chris Wray, in Washington last month that hate crimes against minority populations were increasing in the US.“We have a problem with white nationalist terrorism in the United States of America today,” O’Rourke said, adding that “these are white men motivated by the kind of fear that this president traffics in.”In relation to Trump’s reference to white nationalists rallying in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 as “very fine people”, O’Rourke said this was: “A very public signal to the rest of this country about what is permissible, and in fact, even, what he encourages to happen.”His fellow Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris said the recent spate of massacres demanded a strong response.“Last week it was Gilroy,” she said, referring to a mass shooting at the annual garlic festival in the northern California town last weekend, which killed three and injured many more. The 19-year-old gunman in that shooting was killed in a confrontation with police, but had referred to white supremacist literature online.Harris added: “Today it’s El Paso. How can our country tolerate this? My prayers are yet again with families who are grieving and my thanks are with the first responders, but that is not enough.”In a separate tweet, Harris added: “We cannot remain idle and allow this level of carnage to ravage our communities. We need courage. We need to act.”Another Democratic 2020 presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg, told CNN: “Every time this happens we say never again. We say we’re going to do something. We say it’s going to change and it hasn’t … I’m wondering what it will take to get the sense of urgency.”Cory Booker, the US senator for New Jersey and yet another presidential runner for the Democrats, accused Trump of “fueling white supremacy and hatred”.“The president has been a moral failure. He has sown the seeds that we are seeing now become this harvest of hate. He is responsible. He is a problem in this nation that is driving so much of this hatred,” he told MSNBC.“If you don’t think that having a president speak of such hatred, bigotry and racism … demonize people, calling them invaders, calling people infestation … if you cannot see that that rhetoric is contributing to the violence and hate in our country, then you are unfit to serve,” Booker continued.The former housing secretary Julián Castro described a “toxic brew” of white nationalism building in the US. The El Paso shooting, he told NBC’s Chuck Todd, “is just one more example of that”.The shooter’s manifesto, he said, referring to fears that “Hispanics are taking over the state of Texas and changing the country” echoes the language that the president encourages.“There is this very toxic brew of white nationalism that is arising. And I know that doesn’t reflect by any means – by any means – the vast, vast majority of Americans … we need to pay attention to this, and we need to do something about this.”The response, Castro said, is not more people with guns.“The answer is to make sure that especially these semiautomatic weapons, these weapons of war are not out on the street and that we do things like universal background checks and red flag laws so that people who shouldn’t have their hands on weapons don’t get them in the first place.”He accused the president of “fanning the flames of bigotry” as a political strategy to win election in 2020.The Ohio Democratic senator Sherrod Brown predicted that shock and sadness at the latest attacks would quickly turn to anger that the government had again failed to pass effective reform of assault weapons laws.He called on the Republican Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, to call the Senate back into session on Monday to pass the background check bill passed by the lower house, widening background checks on those purchasing guns.
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