When Donald Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the violence stirred dark memories for many El Pasoans. Residents in this border city have seen in the past four years how the president’s followers have gone to extreme ― even deadly ― lengths to execute his agenda on their own terms. Vigilantes calling themselves the United Constitutional Patriots patrolled the U.S.-Mexico border with automatic weapons in nearby Sunland Park, N.M., holding migrant families at gunpoint. A private group called “We Build the Wall, Inc.” erected a border fence in view of Interstate 10, claiming the president’s detractors weren’t letting him move fast enough on his signature promise. Then, in the deadliest attack on Hispanics in modern U.S. history, a white supremacist driven by anti-Hispanic rhetoric gunned down 23 people while they shopped at Walmart. “That’s an important part of what leads up to what happened in Washington,” said Joe Heyman, director of the Center for Inter-American Border Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso. “Things get tested out in this place that is distant from Washington. Things can be done here that get ignored or hidden or excused because they are done in a distant and powerless ‘edge’ kind of place.”
Each of them ― the vigilantes, the “We Build the Wall” organizers, the Walmart mass shooter ― justified their actions as defense against an “invasion” at the U.S.-Mexico border. Each echoed language used regularly by President Trump, words that El Pasoans and outside observers say weaponized the border to instill fear and give oxygen to white supremacy, anti-immigrant sentiment and hate. El Pasoans connected the dots from here to the Capitol insurrection, where Trump’s words resonated again. The president used his now-suspended Twitter account to call for a “wild” protest, headlined an outdoor rally then egged on his followers to the Capitol, spurring a mob to violently — if temporarily — stop lawmakers from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win. For months, Trump spread lies about the election results and championed the slogan “Stop the Steal.” Millions of Americans may believe him, according to polls. The night of the insurrection, once the Capitol had been cleared, 147 of 211 Republican representatives voted against certifying the election. “It’s hard not to believe something when you are hearing the same thing over and over from people in power,” said David Stout, an El Paso county commissioner. “We, unfortunately, in El Paso, have seen what his words can lead to, and now the country, they saw it.” Texas Republican Party Chairman Col. Allen West condemned the violence at the Capitol and said he is concerned about extremism on the political right and the left. He pointed to Black Lives Matter demonstrations — which drew attention to police brutality against people of color — that turned violent over the summer.

via elpasotimes: The Capitol insurrection was no surprise to border residents. El Pasoans have seen pro-Trump extremism before.