Lee takes on domestic terrorism, white supremacy, racism and hate speech. “We are more powerful than the NRA.”
Congresswoman Barbara Lee held a healing vigil and rally in Oakland this week in commemoration of the victims of El Paso, Dayton and Gilroy and against the gun violence and white supremacy.
Speaking at the event Tuesday evening at Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of Oakland City Hall, Lee said, “Healing can only happen through truth-telling. Tonight, we come together to recommit ourselves to bold and progressive action to end this violence in America.”
In El Paso, Texas, Congresswoman Lee’s hometown, a mass shooting at a Walmart took place Aug. 3 killing 22 people. Within the same week, mass shootings occurred in Dayton, Ohio killing 27 people on Aug. 4, and in Gilroy, CA where three people, including a six-year-old, were killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 28. Two of the three killers have been confirmed to have white supremist ideology posted on their social media accounts.
Lee emphasized the threat of domestic terrorism to worshipers, immigrants and people of color as well as violence in homes and on the streets. She stressed the importance of letting the National Rifle Association (NRA) know that “we are more powerful than they are.”
In the face of NRA lobbying against gun reform for decades, Lee is seeking to pass laws in Congress including background checks and a ban on assault rifles.
Taking white supremacy, racism and hate speech head on is also necessary for the stability of the future of the country, said Lee, who believes that domestic terrorism, white supremacy, racism and gun violence create a toxic environment.
If not recognized and defeated, Lee said, the toxic environment will create a country that will no longer be recognizable.
“Our children deserve better,” she said. “Generational trauma and racism has continued today, leading to crimes against humanity on our borders.”
The event opened with a Native American drum circle and a song by a gospel performer. At the conclusion, attendees wrote messages of support on posters dedicated to the communities in El Paso, Dayton, and Gilroy.
In addition to Lee, speakers were Oakland City Councilmembers Lynette Gibson McElhaney and Noel Gallo; Vianney Mendoza, daughter of Maria Mendoza Sanchez; Liz Ortega, executive Treasurer of the Alameda Labor Council; youth leaders of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), MLK Freedom Center and Youth Alive; and Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter.
Garza spoke about the current white nationalist movement that has given rise to domestic terrorism across the country. In particular, she spoke of the radicalization of white men who believe that people of color are taking their place in the country.
“Let us be clear that what it will take to defeat hate is to show that we are unified in love,” Garza said. “We (Oakland) have shown the rest of the country how it gets done. That means lifting our voices. That means recommitting to standing together. That means showing what love in action can look like.”