The death of Kate Steinle, who was fatally shot while on a stroll with her father in San Francisco’s Embarcadero, has become a rallying cry for more stringent immigration laws, including a crackdown on “sanctuary cities” and the creation of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Calls for the border wall have grown louder since Thursday, after a San Francisco jury acquitted a Mexican immigrant charged with the 32-year-old’s murder. On social media, many advocating for the border wall have used #KatesWall as they condemned the acquittal of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, a felon who was in the country illegally at the time of Steinle’s death.
White nationalist and alt-right leader Richard Spencer announced on Twitter that he will be at Lafayette Square, just north of the White House, on Sunday afternoon “to demand Trump build #KatesWall.” President Trump has demanded funding for the border wall, but Congress has yet to agree to provide beyond the $20 million allotted for prototypes and related infrastructure.
Spencer is among many on the far right who were angered by the jury’s decision to acquit Garcia Zarate of not only murder, but also lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon. Jurors agreed with the defense that the shooting was accidental. The 45-year-old Garcia Zarate, who had previously entered the United States illegally six times and has seven prior felony convictions, was instead found guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm, which carries a sentence of up to three years.
Back at Pier 14 in San Francisco, where Steinle was shot in 2015, tall and short white candles were lined up neatly around and on a wooden bench. A picture of a smiling Steinle is taped on a white poster and surrounded by handwritten messages.
“You’re not here because somebody who wasn’t supposed to be was,” one wrote.
Right below Steinle’s picture: “Build the Wall.”
The memorial was created by white nationalists, according to local media reports. Tucked in one of the bouquets of flowers on the bench is a card from a group called the Bay Area Alt Right.
The group confirmed on Twitter that its members went to the spot where Steinle was killed and “paid tribute” to the young woman, hours after Garcia Zarate was acquitted of murder. Identity Evropa, a white separatist group, shared a video of its members lighting candles and writing messages on the white poster.
Identity Evropa, a group that focuses on white European heritage, called the acquittal “an indictment of not only San Francisco, but our country overall” in a Twitter post that used #BoycottSanFrancisco and #BuildTheWall. A post from Bay Area Alt Right said the country is “under hostile occupation” and called on Trump to “liberate us.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is leading the Trump administration’s crackdown on sanctuary cities, said on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that Steinle’s death is “one of the most tragic stories that anyone could have.”
“But the fundamental question we’ve got to deal with, and it’s time for this country to get its head on straight — these cities should not be protecting criminal aliens,” Sessions said. “They come into the country unlawfully and then they commit another crime, and then they hide that individual and don’t let them, as they did with Zarate, be turned over to the ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] officers so they can be properly deported.”
The Justice Department later said that the agency has issued an arrest warrant and is considering federal charges against Garcia Zarate. Sessions confirmed as much on Fox News, saying Garcia Zarate will continue to remain in custody before he’s ultimately deported.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Kristine Phillips