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El Paso residents tell Trump to stay away as Republican governor in Ohio backs gun reforms

Locals in the predominantly-Latino border town said the president is part of the problem ahead of his visit tomorrow.

File photo. President Trump with his wife Melania yesterday
File photo. President Trump with his wife Melania yesterday
Image: Ting Shen/Xinhua/PA Images

COMMUNITIES IN TEXAS and Ohio continued to reel from the weekend’s mass shootings today, with locals in El Paso urging the US President to stay away ahead of a planned visit tomorrow. 

Donald Trump is scheduled to travel to the Texan border city where 22 died in the Walmart massacre, before heading around 2,400 kilometres northeast to Dayton, Ohio where a second gunman shot nine dead hours later. 

In Ohio today, its Republican governor broke with party lines to urge the passing of laws requiring background checks for nearly all gun sales and allowing courts to restrict firearms access for people perceived as threats.

The president called on Americans in a nationwide address yesterday to condemn bigotry but community leaders say his words rang hollow set against a longstanding refusal to call out white supremacy. Critics also decried his history of provocative tweets widely condemned as racist.

“This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso,” tweeted Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic presidential hopeful and former congressman who grew up in the city.

“We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here.”

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley meanwhile said she would meet Trump and tell him “how unhelpful he’s being. His comments weren’t helpful on guns.”

‘He has no right’

Residents in El Paso, unimpressed by Trump’s tightly scripted appeal for unity, told AFP they were fearful of a rise in white nationalism and said the president was part of the problem.

“I do blame our president. Since the moment he got into office the rhetoric, the hate that he’s got towards people that are just different colour skin, he has no right,” said Silvia Rios.

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, whose district includes the area targeted by the El Paso gunman, urged Trump “to consider the fact that his words and his actions have played a role in this”.

“From my perspective, he is not welcome here,” Escobar told MSNBC. “He should not come here while we are in mourning.”

El Paso mayor Dee Margo, announcing the visit, stressed that he was welcoming the president because it was his duty to do so.

Presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway accused Democrats of politicising a moment of acute pain while Trump was trying to “bring the country together, heal a nation”.

She was backed by the chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party, Adolpho Telles, who defended Trump’s visit but told CNN he needs to be more careful about his language.

Gun laws

Ohio governor Mike DeWine today urged the passing of stricter gun laws ahead of the president’s visit tomorrow. 

“We can come together to do these things to save lives,” DeWine said.

The measures include background checks for most firearm purchases and harsher penalties for convicted criminals with gun convictions. 

DeWine said he heard a crowd of mourners urging him to “do something” at an event on Sunday night. 

“Some chanted ‘do something’ and they were absolutely right,” he said. 

With reporting from AP

© AFP 2019

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