I was searching for items for my younger daughter’s birthday party when I learned via my smartphone about the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona) and others in Tuscon by (as far we we know) Jared Lee Loughner, who has been charged with murder, attempted murder, and attempted assassination. The shooting left the Congress woman, who voted for the DREAM Act, in critical condition and took the lives of six people, including a 9 year old born on 9-11-01 and U.S. District Judge John Roll, who had faced threats on his own.
The speculation as to why the shooting went down in a Tuscon supermarket parking lot during an event meant to draw bridges between Congress and the communities it represents is all over the place. The FBI found evidence in Loughner’s home indicating premeditation. Some media have taken the “he must be mentally ill” stance. Others point to possible connections between Loughner and hate organizations and then there is the influence (or not) coming from the Tea Party and their Grand Dame, Sarah Palin, especially considering that Gifford was featured on a poster, that came from the Palin camp, of “targets” with her face in what appears to be the cross-hairs of a rifle.
I am not going to join the speculation bandwagon. The shooting made me feel horror, sadness and disgust but not surprise. Regardless of the reason, violence as sign of political dissent, whether legitimate or not, has been on the table for sometime. It’s just it has been awhile since it targeted and hit someone deemed important. How many remember Brisenia Flores and her father? Remember when Joseph Stack flew a plane into an IRS building? Or how about when Stephen Tyrone Johns was killed at the U.S. Holocaust museum?
The media, government officials, and popular opinion are quick to use the T word, terrorism, to describe Muslims, Latino, Latino Muslims. Undocumented workers, day laborers, neighborhood kids on a stoop on a summer day all are targets of gang ordinances and their/our very existence is seen as loitering on this precious planet of ours.
Violence to send a message of hate, of power is nothing new to people like me, my familia, my vecinos, my extended community. That is why I cannot claim shock or surprise but rather decide yet again, how to translate this for my children and work towards something better for them and all of us.
Were you surprised?
What is next?