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Home POLITICS After Uvalde shooting, some parents feel called into politics: NPR

After Uvalde shooting, some parents feel called into politics: NPR

The shooting at Robb Elementary School has motivated many parents whose children were killed to become politically active. They run for public office and advocate for stronger gun laws.



TO MARTINEZ, HOST:

In Uvalde, Texas, many seek to turn tragedy into transformative change. The deadly elementary school shooting last spring pushed many parents and community members into politics for the first time. Sergio Martinez-Beltran of The Texas Newsroom reports.

SERGIO MARTINEZ-BELTRAN, BYLINE: For most of his life, Javier Cazares didn’t care about politics.

JAVIER CAZARES: I come from a small town and, you know, it had its problems, you know, bad roads. And I always said, you know, when I grow up, I want to change things like this. So then I never thought about it again until this happened.

MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: This is, when an 18-year-old gunman killed 21 people at Robb Elementary School last May, including Cazares’ youngest daughter, Jacklyn. He says that Jacklyn was not afraid. She spoke her mind, and after her death, he swore to be more like her.

CAZARES: I promised my daughter that I was going to fight, and that is a promise that I will never break.

MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: Cazares has launched a write-in campaign for a seat on the Uvalde County Commissioners Court. He and another write-in candidate want to remove incumbent Mariano Pargas, who was interim police chief of Uvalde on the day of the murder. school shooting. Angela Villescaz is not running for office, but she did start a group called Fierce Madres, or mothers, in the days after the shooting.

ANGELA VILLESCAZ: The thing about Hispanic moms: We’re often quiet or treated like invisible or ignored. But just don’t mess with our kids.

MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: Since then, she and dozens of members have attended every Uvalde city council and school board meeting. They helped push for the firing of Pete Arredondo, the disgraced Uvalde Schools Police Chief. and she hears that A mother of Fierce Mothers will soon take over Arredondo’s seat on the city council that became vacant after her resignation.

VILLESCAZ: That is extremely important because the things we want to do, now we have an idea of ​​the city hall there.

MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: These activists and Cazares, Jacklyn’s father and now a write-in candidate, want to get rid of everyone who played a role in the failed response to the shooting, from Uvalde’s interim police chief to the superintendent of the school district. They want more transparency in city and county government. And they also persecute Governor Greg Abbott because he ruled out raising the minimum age from 18 to 21 to buy a semi-automatic rifle in Texas, one of his main problems. As well as driving change, psychologist Ronna Milo Haglili, who studies the link between trauma and activism, says becoming an activist can help families heal.

RONNA MILO HAGLILI: They’re trying to make sense of the traumatic experiences. There is something within the commitment itself that is associated with a sense of vitality, a sense of empowerment.

MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: Parents of victims of other mass shootings, like Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Florida, also formed advocacy groups afterward. Meanwhile, Javier Cazares says delving into politics has kept him busy, though his mind is constantly filled with thoughts of his daughter.

CZARES: We haven’t really grieved properly because we’ve been fighting since Day 1. But we’re sticking together, you know, staying strong. But it’s a nightmare every day.

MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: Cazares says they will have to endure a nightmare as they fight to help prevent the next mass shooting.

For NPR News, I’m Sergio Martinez-Beltran.

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