In order to combat the impact of the El Paso mass shooting in a Walmart over the weekend, the city opened a grief center on Tuesday. During the mass murder by a white racist, 22 people were killed, nearly all with Hispanic last names. Many others were wounded.
The grief center opened just one day before President Donald Trump is expected to visit El Paso and offers counseling, travel assistance and financial support. Trump’s visit to the city has already sparked controversy since many Democrats and residents blame his racist tweets and speeches for the shooting.
The center has already become a popular gathering place. Within hours of the grief center opening, victims’ families were already inside El Paso’s convention center in a wing the size of a football field.
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“We’ve got to make sure that folks have access to mental health care. There’s going to be a lot of trauma in our community, a lot of children saw things that no human being should see,” Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar, who is from El Paso, told the Associated Press. “The immediate need is that people get help navigating the various agencies and the various systems that are in place.”
The shooter, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, did mention Trump as an inspiration in an anti-immigrant manifesto that he posted online.
Crusius is being held on capital murder charges, though federal prosecutors are also considering charging Crusius with hate crimes.
A protest rally was planned for Trump’s arrival Wednesday that organizers said would confront white supremacy and demand gun control, according to the Associated Press. Trump is also planning on visiting Dayton, Ohio, where another mass shooting took place over the weekend, killing nine people.
The mayor of El Paso, Republican Dee Margo, has already been getting blowback for welcoming Trump to the city.
“I’m already getting the emails and the phone calls,” Margo said at a news conference on Monday.