Austin community takes action following Uvalde tragedy


Kara Hawley

A women looks at the Uvalde Memorial in front of the Texas Capital on May 31, 2022. The Memorial was set up to honor those who lost their lives in Uvalde on May 24.

Sarah Brager, Life & Arts Reporter

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the June 7, 2022 flipbook.

Twenty-one portraits line the Texas Capitol steps, candles and flowers by their side. As community members pass the microphone and share emotional testimonies, the crowd listens with a heavy heart, uniting in grief over the tragedy that occurred in Uvalde, Texas the day before. 

Nineteen fourth graders and two teachers lost their lives after an 18-year-old gunman entered Robb Elementary School on May 24 and started firing, resulting in the deadliest school shooting in the state’s history, according to the Texas Tribune. Since then, Austin residents have mobilized, organizing vigils, fundraisers, blood drives and demands for justice for victims and their families.  

“What we’re trying to do is help them in any way we can, but we’re also trying to create change so that hopefully these things stop occurring,” political communications junior Dylan MacAdams said. 

On May 25, The Coalition, a local social justice group, held a memorial for “emergency community mourning” on the Texas Capitol steps. Additionally, The Coalition held a demonstration at the memorial one week after the shooting to “hold the Uvalde police department accountable,” according to the organization’s Instagram page. MacAdams, chairman of the organization, said the demonstration offered an important and necessary opportunity to send Uvalde a message: you are not alone. 

“We just keep reiterating and trying to focus all of our energy on the idea that to make change, we have to band together so we can organize, rally and support each other,” MacAdams said. 

In addition to the vigil and demonstration, Austin Food Adventures, a popular food blogging account on Instagram, organized a fundraiser the same weekend called Dine with Uvalde to financially support Uvalde community members. Over 25 local businesses participated in the fundraiser by donating 10% of their proceeds to verified GoFundMe pages for victims’ families. Austin Food Adventures continues to tally the donations, but CEO Amanda Wong said she expects a substantial total. 

“My hope is that people see this movement and find their own ways to take action,” Wong said. “Even if they feel hopeless in this moment, there’s always something you can do, and there’s always something that can be said.” 

In another show of support, Austin’s We Are Blood hosted a blood drive in honor of Uvalde victims on Thursday, May 26. Nick Canedo, Vice President of Community Engagement, said South Texas Blood and Tissue Center, a blood bank receiving donations for Uvalde, did not need blood donations when We Are Blood reached out. However, We Are Blood still decided to host a blood drive in Austin to symbolically support Uvalde victims and ensure Central Texas hospitals could replenish blood supplies when needed. 

“Blood drives like this and what we’re doing in response to the tragedy in Uvalde give people emotional support and ways to feel like they’re giving back and making a difference,” Canedo said.

As Uvalde navigates its recovery, local attitudes toward community response remain consistent: do whatever you can. Verified GoFundMe pages for the victims bring in more donations each day, some surpassing $100,000. Additionally, MacAdams said The Coalition expects to hold more demonstrations at the Capitol in their fight for legislative change on firearm restrictions. 

“Everyone is behind you,” MacAdams said. “We are not directly in the community, but we are all a part of a larger community of Texans, of Americans. We want to show the people of Uvalde that you aren’t alone.”