President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited El Paso Wednesday afternoon to meet with first responders and survivors of Saturday’s mass shooting.
Those who greeted the president include Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. John Cornyn, Sen. Ted Cruz, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo and others.
Residents, however, turned out in force to protest the visit.
It was hot and humid at El Paso’s Washington Park, but hundreds of protesters were there holding signs that declared: “Not Welcome,” “Brown and Proud,” and “Fuera Trump,” which translates to “Trump Get Out.”
Callie Weston brandished a large sign that read “Ban Assault Weapons Now.”
The evening of the shooting, which killed 22 people, she said she visited asylum seekers at a local detention center.
“And I said them, ‘You realize, you were safe. You were one of the few people in El Paso, because you were locked up in a detention center, you were safe,’” said Weston.
Also in Washington Park was Karen Powers, who staffed a table registering people to vote. She said Trump was not welcome in her city.
“It’s like inviting the murderer to the funeral to me,” she said. “I think it’s that gross.”
Many of the demonstrators carried signs blaming Trump directly for inspiring the alleged shooter through his anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Richie Huerta was one of the demonstrators and said he thinks assault weapons should not be available to civilians.
“We’re not fighting a war here. Now, it seems, that’s what it looks like,” he said. “I know people need a handgun or whatever to have for their own protection and everything, but you don’t need those kind of rifles here in the United States. Leave that to the Army.”
Less than a mile away, Trump was at the University Medical Center meeting with their staff and other first responders — as well as survivors of the shooting. Before coming down to Texas, Trump also visited Dayton, Ohio where a mass shooting took place early Sunday morning killing 10 people including the shooter.
There were small crowds of protesters near the side streets of the El Paso hospital.
Back at the Walmart where the shooting took place, El Pasoans continued to gather near a memorial outside the store. According to reports from the El Paso Police Department, some protest groups began “clashing against each other.”
The memorial was meant to honor the victims. Do not dishonor them by clashing against each other. Stop the hate— EL PASO POLICE DEPT (@EPPOLICE) August 7, 2019
After visiting the hospital, the president went to the El Paso Region Communications Center. According to reports, protestors stood on the street outside where someone held up a large white bed sheet with the words “Racist, go home.”
Inside, Trump told first responders that they are “the best” and shook their hands.
“All over the world, they’re talking about the job you’ve done,” the president said.