Walmart has a choice to make. It needs to decide what to do with the store where 22 individuals were killed because they happen to be Hispanic/Mexicans. There were 13 U.S. citizens, eight Mexican citizens and one German among the dead. They were killed at one of El Paso’s Walmarts. It is likely one of the highest grossing Walmarts in the country.
When a killer targeted a gay night club in Orlando – Pulse – the night club was turned into a memorial. The community came together at the Pulse to heal. Although the El Paso Walmart is much bigger than the Pulse there are similarities in that the location must become a reminder of what happens when hate is allowed to roam free.
In the case of the El Paso Walmart there are some issues that make its future difficult. That particular Walmart is mostly land-locked in a location that makes it ideal for its target market – Mexican citizens and El Paso Latinos shopping for Walmart goods.
These are the same people that the killer targeted because of their skin color.
Money will play a significant part in the decision. Closing the Walmart will affect the tax base, inconvenience shoppers and hurt Walmart’s bottom line. In the case of Pulse where 27 more individuals were killed because they were different than in El Paso, the Orlando community decided quickly that the site should become a memorial. Government entities and private businesses and individuals offered millions in support for the project.
But like all political manifestations it has become embroiled in political intrigue. The owner of the Pulse, Barbara Poma, declined to sell the building to the city and, instead is now a board member of the nonprofit organizing the memorial. However, the non-profit is being criticized for allegedly profiting from the massacre. An audit is underway.
Unlike Orlando, El Paso does not have the tax base to fund the millions it would take to build a memorial at the Walmart. But El Paso has an ongoing controversy about building a Mexican Cultural Center that was approved by El Paso voters.
Could the proposed Mexican Cultural Center approved by El Paso taxpayers be located at the Walmart?
That is a question that should be considered because those targeted were Mexicans, both Mexican-Americans and Mexican citizens.
But Walmart must also decide what it wants to do. It owns the building.
Walmart sells guns at its stores so there is a gun control nexus to the issue. Walmart is popular both in El Paso and in México. Walmart must also consider whether it is appropriate to reopen the store after so many were killed for the color of their skin.
Those and many other questions need to be addressed in the coming months as El Paso begins to look to deal with the grief.
Unfortunately, politics and money will likely raise its ugliness to turn the tragedy into self-serving agendas and pocket lining schemes.
Walmart seriously needs to consider donating and funding a memorial for those killed for the color of their skin. El Paso city government should step forward and offer to allocate the Hispanic Cultural Center monies and support for a memorial that not only memorializes those that gave their lives but also showcases the cultural identity that was targeted by a hateful killer.