Earlier this week in Uvalde, TX, The Unheard Voices March and Rally took place to demand justice and accountability from lawmakers in the wake of the Robb Elementary School shooting that claimed the lives of 19 children and 2 of their teachers. Beto O'Rourke, who has been outspoken about the need for gun reform in the wake of the shooting, showed up to march with the protesters. When asked why he decided to attend, Beto said "These families deserve our support, they deserve justice, they deserve answers, and they deserve action. Every one of them to a person has told me they never want to see another family go through this. So, I'm marching with them today to support what they're doing and what they're asking for".
The march took place from Robb Elementary School to the downtown plaza where the rally took place this past Sunday. Some families of victims wanted to make their voices heard to "call out lawmakers", who they say, "were absent during the march" they believe, "representatives prioritize gun sales over people".
Beto O'Rourke summarized three things that he took away from the rally in terms of the ask of the community impacted by this mass shooting. Those three things were;
"That we not forget the names and the lives and the memories of those who were taken from us.
There must be justice and there must be accountability. We must know the truth for what happened and why it happened.
The third thing I've heard from every single parent is they don't want any other mom or dad in this state or in this country to ever feel the way that they do right now".
He ended his statements by saying, "We need action today, the time to prevent the next mass shooting is right now with each, and every single one of us. Thank you for being here, for standing up, and for making Texas proud".
O'Rourke has been critical of Texas Governor Greg Abbott stating, "Abbott should have acted after the first, second, third, fourth, fifth major mass shooting to take our fellow Texans on his watch. He refused. He should have acted in the seven painful weeks since Uvalde. He refused. Let’s vote him out, take action, and save lives".
A part of the Governor's response in taking action regarding the school shooting in Uvalde was announcing an additional $105.5M to support school safety & mental health initiatives. Abbott stated, "Texas is acting swiftly to ensure our schools are secure & that children, teachers, & families have the support they need".
Detailed plans of the funding state, "$100.5 million will be transferred to state agencies and programs to enhance school safety and mental health services in Uvalde and throughout Texas.
The funding will provide:
$50 million for bullet-resistant shields;
$5.8 million to expand the Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine (TCHATT) statewide;
$4.7 million to the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to increase Multi systemic Therapy (MST) across the state;
$950,000 to HHSC to expand Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) teams across the state;
$7 million for rapid response training by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center and $3 million for local law enforcement agencies to offset travel expenditures associated with the training;
$7 million to the Texas School Safety Center for on-site campus assessments to evaluate access control measures;
$17.1 million for school districts to purchase silent panic alert technology; and
$5 million to the Texas Department of Public Safety to expand fusion center research and capabilities".
Families in attendance at last Sunday's rally in Uvalde are calling for their voices to be heard, stating, "We only ask that they place greater effort in keeping military style weapons from young adults under 21 years of age".
Despite the Governors's fiscal plan to support mental health, and school safety measures, critics argue that his focus is not with healing a Texas community but rather with an increased focus on border security to assure conservative constituents that he is "tough on crime", and win his re-election bid this November against O'Rourke his Democratic Challenger.
Both Abbott and O'Rourke are positioning themselves as the right candidate for Governor this coming November. O'Rourke through empathy, action, and service, and Abbott through security, and the economy. As more Texans are demanding stricter gun reform laws, it will be interesting to see how each candidate's campaign strategy affects the voting population in Texas come Election Day.
What do you think, Texas?
Who has your vote for Governor this November?
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