UPDATED 3:40 p.m. ET: Donald Trump has called on the Justice Department to introduce legislation that will ensure perpetrators of hate crimes and mass murders are punishable by the death penalty. He added that he wants capital punishment to be imposed "quickly and decisively" against those responsible.
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Less than 24 hours after 20 people were killed in a mass shooting at Walmart in the border town of El Paso, Texas (with two more victims dying Monday of their injuries), a gunman opened fire in the entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio, leaving nine people dead. The shootings arrived days after a 19-year-old man unleashed violence on a festival in Gilroy, California, killing three people including a 6-year-old boy.
The American gun violence epidemic has taken the lives of 8,787 people this year alone, and contributed to 255 mass shootings (at the time this article was published)—further cementing how terrorism and white supremacy are inextricably linked, particularly in the age of Donald Trump.
Although the motives in two of those aforementioned shootings remain unclear, the perpetrator of the deadly attack in El Paso posted a manifesto titled "The Inconvenient Truth," shortly before he committed the hate crime. In the document, he detailed his intentions to unleash violence on Hispanic communities, and cited the anti-immigrant rhetoric repeatedly spewed by the 45th President. The xenophobic diatribe mirrored similar documents disseminated by gunmen fueled by white supremacy, particularly the manifesto released by the Christchurch shooter who killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand. “In general, I support the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto," the El Paso shooter wrote. "This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
On Monday, Trump addressed the mass shootings and condemned the role of white supremacy. “In one voice our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” the President said. He then continued by warning of “the perils of the internet and social media” despite his use of Twitter to fuel racial divisiveness. He also sent condolences to Toledo, not Dayton.
The string of mass shootings has sent a shockwave through the American psyche and re-re-reintroduced the age-old question of whether our leaders and lawmakers will properly respond to the gun violence epidemic and the hateful ideologies fueling it. Many politicians, celebrities, and commentators—including Cardi B, John Legend, John Oliver, Chuck D, Ava DuVernay, and El Paso's own Khalid—have turned to social media to express their frustrations, demand action, and condemn the President for inspiring these violent white supremacists.