On Thursday, El Pasoan Albert Hernandez testified in front of the House Natural Resource Committee’s Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands in favor of turning the El Paso Community Healing Garden into a federally recognized National Memorial Site. The Healing Garden was created by El Paso County to honor the victims and survivors of the 2019 domestic terrorist attack on El Paso, where 23 people were killed by a far-right shooter.
The shooter drove more than 11 hours from a Dallas suburb to an El Paso Walmart in order to murder Latinos with a legally purchased AK-47 style assault rifle. His manifesto contained anti-immigrant and white nationalist rhetoric, speaking of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” The shooting was the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern American history.
“I’m grateful to the County for ensuring we never forget,” said Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-El Paso) while introducing Hernandez. “I’m asking Congress and the President to ensure this place of peace and comfort becomes a national memorial.” In July, Escobar introduced legislation to designate the El Paso Community Healing Garden as a National Memorial Site.
Hernandez, who wrote a book called “El Paso’s Darkest Day,” lost his sister and brother-in-law in the massacre. No stranger to political activism, he previously fought against the Sierra Blanca nuclear waste dump.
“I want to show the world what happened that day,” said Hernandez, who testified virtually. “I think [the memorial] would be a step in the right direction to show the people of the country that we’re good people, we’re resilient.”
Hernandez expressed his hope that the memorial would serve as a reminder for future generations. “It’s something that needs to go down in history so more generations can see what happened here,” he said. “Nothing’s going to bring these people back, but we need something good that we can bring out of this.”
Hernandez also warned that the dangers of hate and domestic terrorism remained, saying, “it’s only going to get worse, and we need to address it.”
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