EL PASO, United States - Beto O’Rourke has accused Donald Trump of stoking fear, inciting racism and inviting terrorism as the president prepares to visit El Paso, Texas, in the wake of Saturday’s deadly mass shooting.
In the days since the massacre at a Walmart shop that killed 22 people and injured dozens more, the Democratic 2020 hopeful has suspended his presidential campaign and returned to El Paso, where he has attended vigils and met the injured. He has also linked Mr Trump’s racist rhetoric to the violence his home town has suffered.
After attending a vigil for 15-year-old Javier Rodriguez, a pupil at Horizon High School 20 miles outside of El Paso, where he briefly spoke, Mr O’Rourke said it was time for people to hold the president to account for what he said were the consequences of his words.
“There are people in positions of extraordinary power who are inviting this kind of intolerance and violence,” he told The Independent, as he walked from the sports field where the event was held.
Asked if he believed the measures Mr Trump had announced in the Oval Office following the attacks in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio – possibly more background checks and efforts to monitor violent video games – would be effective, Mr O’Rourke said the president had already said enough for people to know “why this happened and why it will keep happening”.
“When he calls immigrants rapists and criminals, when he describes those who come to this country as an infestation and invasion ... when he stokes this kind of fear, incites this kind of racism, invites the kind of terrorism that we saw, then we have to call him out for what he’s done, call this out for what it is,” he said. “And ask everyone to stand up and be counted at this moment of truth.”
The 46-year-old has appeared both emotional and angry in many of his public appearances since Saturday, saying that border communities of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, are unique within the western hemisphere.
He has said the community here is friendly, and that El Paso is one of the safest cities in the US. He has also been among those who have highlighted that the suspected gunman, Patrick Crusius, is alleged to have driven 650 miles from the city of Allen to carry out the attack in El Paso, which has a large Hispanic population.(FA)