The chorus of families from the Uvalde shooting, angry at authorities’ decision to wait outside a classroom door while their children call 911 for help, is growing louder.
Texas was often viewed as strong, brave, and fearless. This week, it seems that persona will be questioned as little more than a costume.
Texas officials admitted Friday that police made the “wrong decision” when they didn’t immediately storm the classroom where Uvalde’s gunman, Salvador Ramos, killed 19 children and two teachers.
Ruben Mata Montemayor lost his great-granddaughter Alexandria Rubio in Tuesday’s attack. He heard the shots from down the street. As a Vietnam veteran, Ruben has seen his fair share of death and violence. This isn’t his first rodeo with Death. But today he is fighting back tears and trying to come to terms with himself.
“They admitted they were just waiting,” says Mata Montemayor. “How could they do that? Why did they do that?”
He knows firsthand what it’s like to have to put yourself in danger for someone else – he had to do it in war.
“You can’t just sit and listen and watch,” he says. “You have to act, and act fast. Do not wait.”
People like Mata Montemayor know that the 18-year-old gunman is the ultimate person responsible for this tragedy. But the inaction and indecisiveness of law enforcement agencies completely outraged him and others.
“They stand there with their stubborn faces and walk around town as if they were some kind of god,” says Linda Leal from Uvalde. “Well I guess you make pretty good actors.”
Leal has a son who is in a Texas state prison for simply saying he would throw a brick in his father-in-law’s car window. Now she wonders if her own son could be jailed for 18 months for terrorist threat, why didn’t they pursue the shooter?
“I’m not saying my son is right,” Leal said. “But give me a break, do we just choose who we send to prison? Apparently.”
Warning signs were everywhere about the gunman who had committed this massacre in Uvalde. The police admit mistakes. Now it is becoming even clearer that the shooter had a history of violence and behavioral problems. What was once a globally respected place, known for its chest-pounding motto “Don’t mess with Texas,” is quickly becoming the laughing stock of the world.
“We’re a proud people here in Texas,” says Andrea Garcia of nearby Sabinal, Texas. “We support our law enforcement and we love our guns. We are told to support both of these things no matter what. Do you see where this is taking us?”
Garcia, whose husband is a local contractor, says authorities need to reevaluate their policing priorities.
“They’re more concerned about stopping people from crossing that damn border or writing them a ticket for a broken headlight than they are about protecting their community,” Garcia says. “We will go to the ends of the earth to track down a petty criminal, but are doing as little as we can to protect our children. Our priorities here in Texas are just messed up.”
Garcia has a brother who is also in a Texas prison for possession of marijuana. He was sentenced to five years in prison for less than 10 ounces of marijuana – a crime that should have carried only a maximum sentence of two years. Garcia says her brother had no prior drug convictions.
“They dragged him over and handcuffed him for over two hours and then came to my parents’ house and searched his room,” says Garcia. “Everything about marijuana. Are you telling me that you can do this, but don’t do anything about this killer? We have some very muddled priorities here in Texas.”
The outrage that can be felt here about Uvalde is palpable. People ask questions and want answers, but the only thing they get is more and more angry.
Texas has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country, most of them for relatively minor crimes. The state has a long history of using its prison system as a place to house people with mental health issues.
In the 1990s, Democratic Texas Gov. Ann Richards pledged to build more state prisons and jails in rural areas of the state and use them as tools for what she called “rural economic development.” Her idea was to build them, hire native Texans and incarcerate as many people as possible. A philosophy that has since been embraced by Texas Republicans at every level.
Ricky Hernandez was once one of them.
“I worked just up the street at the Torres Unit,” says Hernandez. “More than half of these people don’t need to be in prison. That’s why I quit.”
Hernandez says most inmates suffer from mental health problems and do not have access to proper treatment or follow-up after they are released.
“It’s called a relapse,” says Hernandez. “I call that bullshit.”
Hernandez describes most of those he has previously mentored as having addiction problems of one kind or another.
“Sure they were violent, but look how they were treated,” he says. “Cheap old-school drugs that are readily available from the state, and the same cheap drugs are given to almost everyone because the approach is one-size-fits-all.”
Hernandez says he feels Texas was partly responsible for Tuesday’s massacre.
“I’m sure we in Texas played our part in creating this tragedy,” he says. “We focus on incarcerating anyone and everyone we consider a criminal, but we ignore the serious potential offenders like this guy so we can focus resources on finding and prosecuting a drug addict rather than an addiction like the mental illness.” treat who she is. ”
Hernandez now has to deal with the trauma of thinking he was blindly part of the problem.
“How could I just sit back and watch them put sick people in jail while ignoring people like this killer,” he asks. “I feel like I kind of allowed that because I didn’t stop them from using their power against us.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/uvalde-families-slams-texas-cops-over-inaction-in-robb-elementary-school-massacre?source=articles&via=rss Uvalde Families sues Texas cops for inaction in Robb Elementary school massacre