DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines Latino leaders came together outside of East High School Friday to speak out about what's next for the community after Monday's drive-by shooting.
Representatives from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) said this tragedy was one that should have never happened, but Des Moines should prioritize investing in proper resources for minority students to prevent it from happening again.
LULAC vice president Joe Enriques Henry believes Monday's shooting was not just an isolated tragic event, but a sign of a failed system
"It is clear that this is a wake up call," Henry said. "This is more than just a deadly gang incident. This is violence caused by lack of resources in little to no gun control. Our kids cannot take care of themselves. They need community now."
Dr. Maria Corona, the executive director of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said the Latino community has been greatly affected by this tragedy and others like it for generations.
"We must recognize that the root causes of violence is inequity," Corona said. "And communities like ours have been impacted by inequity and trauma for generations. There is a history of exclusion, intentional marginalization, and legal violence inflicted upon the Latino community and other BIPOC communities."
Alejandro Murguia-Ortiz, a community organizer with Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice, wishes the Latino community could feel the support of the Des Moines community outside of moments of grief
"We're starting to see spaces opening up to care for one another, whether it's here at the school, or just finding space to invite families to be a part of the process and be a part of the conversations, and that's really beautiful to see" Murguia-Ortiz said. "But what's unfortunate is that it always has to happen after a tragedy."
Corona said to see change, the community needs to provide under-represented residents with equal assistance and proper tools to make those changes a reality.
"We need to invest in the conditions that would allow our youth and families to thrive, not just to survive," Corona said.
Latino youth make up almost 50% of the student body at East High School, but there's only one bilingual counselor, according to presenters. That means close to 1,000 kids with only one bilingual counselor to talk to. Leaders say that is just one of the examples of inequity in education.
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