fbpx

Why Uvalde is the Mass Shooting that Will Never Go Away

The evidence that keeps dribbling out since May 24 leads only to that embarrassing conclusion—those sworn to protect us thought of protecting themselves first.
[additional-authors]
July 14, 2022
The Robb Elementary School sign is seen covered in flowers and gifts on June 17, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

One of the tragic aspects of mass shootings is that they survive only as brand names connected to the horror of guns. Since gun violence, and the mindset of the shooters, are the topics that dominate the  aftermath of these events, mass shootings tend to blur into one another, going through the revolving door of news cycles. All that remains are indelible brands of darkness—Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, and so on.

Uvalde is different. Nearly two months after the May 24 massacre, it is still very much in the news.

In large part, that’s because Uvalde doesn’t just signify the nightmare of a shooting act, but also the gross incompetence of law enforcement. This failure, moreover, is especially noteworthy because it’s connected to fear. We don’t usually associate law enforcement with fear or timidity. The typical criticism is that police are too aggressive, not too restrained.

And yet, the evidence that keeps dribbling out since May 24 leads only to that embarrassing conclusion—those sworn to protect us thought of protecting themselves first.

The latest shoe to drop is the release on Tuesday of surveillancevideo that gives the clearest account yet of how a crowd of officers waited 77 minutes outside a Robb Elementary classroom as the gunman killed 21 students and teachers.

The video is hard to watch. You see officers approaching the door of the classroom within minutes of the shooter entering, and then retreating after they hear gun shots. To spare the viewer more agony, the screams of students are edited out.

Finally, after more than an hour, the doorway of the classroom is breached and the gunman shot and killed.

So much anger has been unleashed, mostly from grieving parents and family members, that Uvalde will be in the news for many months to come. We can expect more investigations and more reports as people demand full transparency. “Who was in charge?” will surely be a key question.

Regardless of who was most responsible, the essential truth is already out, captured succinctly by Uvalde County Commissioner Ronald Garza: “They just didn’t act. They just didn’t move,” he told CNN on Wednesday. “I just don’t know what was going through those policemen’s minds that tragic day, but … there was just no action on their part.”

This is an astonishing admission. An act of violent aggression associated with police timidity.

This is an astonishing admission. An act of violent aggression associated with police timidity. It doesn’t matter if it’s an outlier—the mere idea of police timidity is indelible enough. In Uvalde we have a horrific event that embodies two opposite trends of American society: over-the-top violence and over-the-top fear.

What makes Uvalde unforgettable is that the fear came from those who are supposed to shield us from it.

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

Antisemitism Is Anti-American

By addressing antisemitism head-on, we reaffirm our commitment to the core values that make America strong and resilient.

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.