Widespread fury at the police has followed the killing of 19 students and two teachers at a school in Uvalde, Texas, United States last week. At least 19 officers waited in the hallway of Robb Elementary School for more than an hour while 18 year old Salvador Ramos continued to massacre children and teachers.
Under orders from superiors, cops ignored desperate emergency calls from school children inside the classrooms. Instead, they aggressively confronted parents who were begging them to enter the school. Parents were threatened with arrest—and one cop brandished a Taser—as they tried to save their kids themselves. Police handcuffed parent Angeli Rose Gomez. When she was released, she managed to run into the school, grab her children, and bring them out to safety.
Such experiences underline that the police never put the interests of ordinary people first. Republican Texas governor Greg Abbott and Democrat president Joe Biden visited Uvalde last week. Parents greeted Abbott with jeers and boos. He had hailed the “courageous” actions of the police at a meeting soon after the killings, but later claimed he had been “misled”.
Uvalde is the third deadliest school shooting in US history, and as Socialist Worker went to press, it is one of 214 mass shootings this year in the US. The gunman brought the AR-15 style assault rifle and 1,657 rounds of ammunition legally. That has led many to repeat calls for tighter gun controls. Distress and anger that politicians have failed to implement any such measures led students and teachers across the US to walk out in protest at around 200 schools last Thursday.
Around 100 students at Oxford High School in Michigan stood in a “U” formation to show solidarity. In November, the students had experienced a shooting in their school in which four of their number were killed. “We went through the same thing. I lost a lot of friends. I thought it would be respectful to help other people through it,” student Andrew Sholtz told The Detroit News.
It is entirely understandable that people call for gun control. But far deeper issues need to be addressed if the number of mass killings is to be reduced. The Uvalde tragedy holds a mirror up to the violent capitalist society. Politicians, the state and the media saturate the US with their veneration of military violence. Their constant admiration of the armed forces and the idea that the solution to every problem is ultimately the overwhelming force of US imperialism reinforces the psychology behind gun violence.
We cannot know for sure the motivations and experiences that led to Ramos’ appalling actions. But we do know that society’s intense competition and contempt for “failures” produces a layer of people who feel utterly alienated and hostile to those around them.
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