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Iowa Latino Community Reacts To El Paso Shooting

El Paso Skyline

Two weeks after a mass shooting shook the nation, members of Iowa's Latino community share their reactions to the hate-fueled violence.

The shooter, who killed 22 people in El Paso on August 3rd, told police he was specifically targeting Mexicans. Now, Latino Iowans are questioning their own safety.

Father Guillermo Trevino lives in West Liberty, which is a majority Latino town in southeast Iowa. The day of the shootings, he was baptizizng a child with family in El Paso. He says he's witnessed fear in his community as well as compassion and support towards the victims of El Paso.

"I was sharing with a friend, I'm scared to go to Walmart because you never would expect that, but it just seems that something you never expected to happen happens and one has to be a little more careful," Trevino says.

Emilia Marroquin, who is a member of the Storm Lake Community District School Board, says tactics to avoid shootings are now part of the conversation with kids in Storm Lake.

"The community is just trying to be informed, trying to be careful, basically. Something that is not what we’re supposed to be doing in a land of freedom, because we’re supposed to be in a safe country where nothing like this should be happening,” says Marroquin.

Several callers also joined the conversation to share their feelings. Karina from Marshalltown says “Now we can’t even shop in our own shopping markets or malls in our communities due to such young people thinking the way they think and doing those things to our people, to our community.”

Marlu from Des Moines says “I firmly believe that  if we had folks in leaderhip, who were people who could bring people together, who could serve as ambassadors, we could nip this type of hate in the bud.”

History Professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Omar Valerio-Jimenez, also joins host Ben Kieffer and details the long history of violence towards Mexican Americans in Iowa and across the nation.


  • Father Guillermo Trevino, parochial vicar at St. Joseph Catholic Church in West Liberty, as well as St. Bernadatte Church in West Branch and St. Patrick Catholic Church in Iowa City
  • Emilia Marroquin, member of the Board of Education at Storm Lake Community School District
  • Omar Valerio-Jimenez, associate professor of history at University of Texas at San Antonio

Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Katherine Perkins is IPR's Program Director for News and Talk