The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion It’s been a year since Uvalde. Here are questions we still need answered.

A memorial for the 19 students and two teachers killed a year ago at Robb Elementary School on Monday in Uvalde, Tex. (Sergio Flores for The Washington Post)
2 min

A year has passed since the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Tex. — and still, the public doesn’t know the whole story.

We know that more than 375 local, state and federal officers took more than an hour to kill the gunman who entered a fourth-grade classroom with an AR-style rifle. We know that the medical response was so disjointed that none of the available helicopters carried victims directly to the hospital; that a school bus with no medics on board transported six students, including one who was seriously wounded; that several victims dragged from the building conscious or with a pulse nonetheless did not survive. We know that authorities in the days after the shooting gave conflicting, sometimes inaccurate accounts of what happened. We know that 19 children and two teachers are dead.

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  • D.C. Council reverses itself on school resource officers. Good.
  • Virginia makes a mistake by pulling out of an election fraud detection group.
  • Vietnam sentences another democracy activist.
  • Biden has a new border plan.
The D.C. Council voted on Tuesday to stop pulling police officers out of schools, a big win for student safety. Parents and principals overwhelmingly support keeping school resource officers around because they help de-escalate violent situations. D.C. joins a growing number of jurisdictions, from Montgomery County, Md., to Denver, in reversing course after withdrawing officers from school grounds following George Floyd’s murder. Read our recent editorial on why D.C. needs SROs.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) just withdrew Virginia from a data-sharing consortium, ERIC, that made the commonwealth’s elections more secure, following Republicans in seven other states in falling prey to disinformation peddled by election deniers. Former GOP governor Robert F. McDonnell made Virginia a founding member of ERIC in 2012, and until recently conservatives touted the group as a tool to combat voter fraud. D.C. and Maryland plan to remain. Read our recent editorial on ERIC.
In Vietnam, a one-party state, democracy activist Tran Van Bang was sentenced on Friday to eight years in prison and three years probation for writing 39 Facebook posts. The court claimed he had defamed the state in his writings, according to Radio Free Asia. In the past six years, at least 60 bloggers and activists have been sentenced to between 4 and 15 years in prison under the law, Human Rights Watch found. Read more of the Editorial Board’s coverage on autocracy and Vietnam.
The Department of Homeland Security has provided details of a plan to prevent a migrant surge along the southern border. The administration would presumptively deny asylum to migrants who failed to seek it in a third country en route — unless they face “an extreme and imminent threat” of rape, kidnapping, torture or murder. Critics allege that this is akin to an illegal Trump-era policy. In fact, President Biden is acting lawfully in response to what was fast becoming an unmanageable flow at the border. Read our most recent editorial on the U.S. asylum system.


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This information has come in part from a 77-page report by the Texas House of Representatives. Some of it has come from a report by researchers at Texas State University, and still more has come from the media. But pieces are still missing, including details that could reconcile the inconsistencies among accounts. The Texas Department of Public Safety, whose Texas Rangers probed the tragedy, has a comprehensive set of records, from 911 calls to ballistics reports to body-camera footage, that could finally explain why what went wrong went so desperately wrong. Yet officials are refusing to release them — and a consortium of news organizations, including The Post, has filed a lawsuit to force their disclosure.

Meanwhile, the city of Uvalde — also under suit by a consortium of news organizations including The Post — blames its own failure to offer answers in part on an inability to get key information from the state authorities.

Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell has said in a court filing that disclosing the records could jeopardize any criminal charges she might seek in response to the Texas Rangers’ investigation after “ample time” to review the case. This has been the Department of Public Safety’s excuse for keeping secrets. But according to the department itself, the investigation has already ended, and it’s unclear what harm the disclosure of these materials would actually do. The district attorney also says the victims’ families agree with her decision, yet the vast majority of them are refuting that claim.

How much time is needed, really? Twelve months without answers for the families of those killed — answers that could show the community whom to hold accountable for their grief as well as possibly spare other families the need to grieve — already seems like more than enough.

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Editorials represent the views of The Post as an institution, as determined through debate among members of the Editorial Board, based in the Opinions section and separate from the newsroom.

Members of the Editorial Board and areas of focus: Opinion Editor David Shipley; Deputy Opinion Editor Karen Tumulty; Associate Opinion Editor Stephen Stromberg (national politics and policy); Lee Hockstader (European affairs, based in Paris); David E. Hoffman (global public health); James Hohmann (domestic policy and electoral politics, including the White House, Congress and governors); Charles Lane (foreign affairs, national security, international economics); Heather Long (economics); Associate Editor Ruth Marcus; Mili Mitra (public policy solutions and audience development); Keith B. Richburg (foreign affairs); and Molly Roberts (technology and society).