El Paso, Dayton, and a call for change

August 7, 2019

By Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO, the Boston Foundation

As families in Dayton and El Paso begin the painful process of burying more than 30 victims of senseless violence, we at the Boston Foundation send our profound condolences. We share in the frustration that we live in the only nation wracked so regularly by this drumbeat of violence, and we call for a stop to the hate-filled rhetoric that inspires mass shootings and gives misguided people with a penchant toward hate a twisted justification for their actions.

As Greater Boston’s community foundation, we strive to create a community where justice and opportunity are afforded to everyone. But we do it within a larger system that too often chooses injustice and inequity. We do it at a time when violence and intolerance are encouraged, not just on the fringes of civil society, but by some of its core institutions. As a community, we must work together to make our schools, communities, and businesses safer from gun violence. Together we must end a culture of threats and incitements to violence against people in this country based solely on the color of their skin, the language they speak, who they love, where they worship, or where they came from.

We also must find a way to console those who have suffered unimaginable loss and those for whom the recovery will be long. And we must not forget that we also live in a nation where in times of horror, individuals serve as remarkable reminders of the goodness in our hearts. In each of these all-too-frequent, tragic stories, we hear about people – victims, first responders and bystanders alike – who rush in to protect others, to rally communities, to save lives, and to help.

Community foundations and philanthropy are playing a critical role. The El Paso Community Foundation has established the El Paso Shooting Victims Fund and in Dayton, the Dayton Foundation has established the Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund, which is accepting donations to help those affected by the shooting there.

We can also regularly reach out to the Latino members of our community as the highly-valued, welcome part of Greater Boston that they are. As our research has shown, Latinos are the driving force of growth in Greater Boston. Without Latinos, there would be no Boston renaissance – our population would be flat, and so would our economy.

To the Latino members of our community: you are Boston. And we continue to stand with you and for you against the forces of hate and intolerance.

But we as a nation must do more. We go through cycles of grief and inaction with every mass shooting, and in the end we let the forces of inaction stop us from addressing the issues that cause it. The answers may feel obvious. But they are not simple. There is no bill, no one talking point, no single solution that will cure our culture of violence and burgeoning hate. And while we fail to act, hate, intolerance, anger and callousness fester and build to the next event.

Every one of these shootings is different. But two things are constant. The pain of the loss, and the guarantee that – in our current climate – the next El Paso, the next Gilroy, the next Dayton, is likely right around the corner.