Minnesota Immigration & Latinx leaders respond to El Paso shooting

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Here in Minnesota, many are still reeling after the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. After the attack, immigrants and Latinx are especially on high alert.

According to the pew research center there are at least 276,000 hispanics who call Minnesota home. 
More than 60 percent of them were born in the U.S. 

Now, one woman says the call she feels to protect the community rings louder than ever before. 

Emilia Gonzalez Avalos is the Executive Director of NAVIGATE MN/Unidos MN, a group dedicated to helping the Latinx community build power for gender, racial and economic justice.

"There's a story being told about Latinos that is not true," said Gonzalez Avalos as she reflected on the labels cast on the Latinx community in her Minneapolis office. 

"It's a story about us not told by us, and we have an opportunity to keep building resilience, that's the story we're holding hard onto," she said.

After the shooting, Gonzalez Avalos added another layer of outreach to the nonprofit group: safety drills. 

"Families feel like they're walking with a target on their back, and with this enhanced action of disdain and disregard for life with brown people, it just feels like another target," she said.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, two white nationalist groups operate in Minnesota, among a total of 12 hate groups rooted here as of last year.

Meanwhile, in St. Paul, The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota has had to call the FBI twice this year.

Two hate groups have threatened the law center so far. One even demanded to be let in, banging on the door and standing outside for hours.

"We are having to take security measures for the first time this year that we just never had to before. That's been really an important piece of fallout of the negative messages some people insist on sending out about immigrants," said Lenore Millibergity, Interim Executive Director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota. 

The recent shootings now move law center leaders to call for an end to hate speech and violence that has left marginalized communities in peril - peril Gonzalez Avalos never wants to see unfold in Minnesota.

"When we have people flooding over in southern Minnesota, we show up for each other. We help each other get our cars out of the snow, we check on our neighbors. That's the Minnesota stories I want to hold tight to," Avalos said.

For more information on NAVIGATE MN, click here.