Uvalde Father Brett Cross Is Fighting so That No One Else Has to Bury Their Child

“At this point, it’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen to you, it’s a matter of when.”

Maximillian Alvarez

The memorial for the massacre at Robb Elementary School on June 24, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

Read the full transcript below.

Brett Cross is a small-town kid who grew up in Western Texas, among the oil fields, near Odessa. He worked in the oil fields, worked his way up to doing pipeline work, eventually moving to green energy work. He even became a foreman, working hard to provide for his family. And Brett was at work when he got the call from his wife Nikki that changed their lives forever. It was May 24, 2022, Nikki was at their sons’ school, Robb Elementary, in Uvalde, Texas. This is not a fucking joke,” she said, there’s a shooter at the boys’ school.” We talk to Brett about his life before, about living in a small town, working and making your own fun, we talk about some of the family memories he cherishes most. We remember Brett and Nikki’s son Uziyah Uzi” Garcia, we talk about the day Uzi was taken from them, along with 18 of his classmates and two of his teachers, and we talk about the unimaginable fight for justice and real change that Brett and Nikki have been fighting ever since. 

Transcript

This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

Brett Cross: A lot of people just want to sweep it under the rug. They want us to move on and be quiet and everything like that. I’m a loud mouth so you ain’t going to fucking quiet me. The talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. You have to walk the walk, too. 

Maximillian Alvarez: Alright, welcome everyone to another episode of Working People, the podcast about the lives, jobs, dreams and struggles of the working class today. Brought to you in partnership with In These Times Magazine and the Real News Network, produced by Jules Taylor, and made possible by the support of listeners like you. Working People is a proud member of the Labor Radio Podcast Network. Follow the link in the show notes and go check out the other great shows in our network. And please support the work that we’re doing here at Working People however you can. Leave us positive reviews of the show, share these episodes and get others to listen to them, and support us on Patreon if you can, which will also give you access to all the great bonus episodes that we publish there for subscribers. You can find the link to our Patreon in the show notes for this episode. 

My name is Maximilian Alvarez, and I’m going to cut right to the chase. We’ve got an incredibly powerful and important episode for y’all today. But it is also, I warn you, a very heavy episode that looks head on at what happens when the darkest, most violent sides of humanity, targeting the lives, the families, and the communities of our fellow workers. And I want to start things off with a heartfelt plea to everyone out there. I know this episode will be difficult to listen to. But I beg you to listen. It is truly the least that we can do. But I hope, as I have hoped from the very beginning of the show, as I have hoped with each and every one of the nearly 300 interviews with working people that we’ve published over the years, I hope that by listening, we will be stirred to do more, to stop accepting what is so demonstrably unacceptable in this broken society and this rigged economy to fight harder for one another, to stop helplessly watching the world burn and to start seeing ourselves and our fellow workers as the ones who are going to save it. That is my hope. 

What you are about to hear is a conversation that I had with Brett Cross. Brett is a small town kid who grew up in western Texas among the oil fields near Odessa. He worked in the oil fields, worked his way up to doing pipeline work, eventually moving to green energy work. He was a foreman. He worked hard to provide for his family. And Brett was at work when he got the call from his wife Nikki that changed their lives forever. It was May 24, 2022. Nikki was at their son’s school, Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. This is not a fucking joke,” She said. There’s a shooter at the boys’ School.” 

Yes, Brett and I talk about that day. And we talk about the unimaginable fight for justice and for real change that Brett and Nikki have been fighting ever since they learned that their son, Uziyah Sergio Garcia, age 10, was among the 19 students and two teachers who were murdered in the mass shooting. The other human beings whose lives were stolen that day are Nevaeh Alyssa Bravo, age 10, Jacklyn Jaylen Cazares, age nine, MaKenna Lee Elrod, age 10, Jose Manuel Flores Jr., age 10, Eliahna Amyah Garcia, age nine, Amerie Jo Garza, age 10, Xavier Javier Lopez, age 10, Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, age 10, Tess Marie Mata, age 10, Miranda Gail Mathis, age 11, Alithia Haven Ramirez, age 10, Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, age 10, Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, age 10, Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, age 10, Layla Marie Salazar, age 11, Jailah Nicole Silguero, age 10, Eliahna Cruz Torres, age 10, Rojelio Fernandez Torres, age 10, Irma Linda Garcia, age 48, Eva Mireles, age 44.

Remember their names. Listen to Brett’s story. Do not look away from the horrors that we have allowed to become commonplace. From the evil and violence that we have allowed, every year, to take more of our children from us, we have to confront this evil head on. We have to be brave, for Uziyah, for Brett and Nikki, for our children, for our future. Because it does not have to be this way. We can eradicate this poison from our society. But if we mean it when we say never again, then we have to fucking fight for it. And we have to keep fighting, and keep fighting and keep fighting until we get there, until we can look our kids in the face and tell them honestly that we did everything we could to protect them, instead of just hugging them every day, wondering in the back of our minds if they will be next, because we didn’t.

Brett Cross: My name is Brett Cross. My son Uziyah was murdered in the Robb Elementary shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. Since then, I have been fighting my ass off to make changes for this world so that other people, other children don’t have to suffer the same fate and other parents don’t have to bury their children. 

Maximillian Alvarez: Well, Brett, brother, it is so great to finally get a chance to talk to you. Of course, I wish more than anything that we were talking under better circumstances and I can’t even begin to pretend to know how to express how sorry I am for your family, for your wife, Nikki, for your community, but please just know that all of us here at Working People are with y’all. We’re sending all our love and solidarity. And we want to help however we can to help you fulfill that mission. Because that concerns all of us. 

I mean, if there’s one thing I impress upon people listening to this episode right now, it’s just that you can’t sweep this evil under the rug. You have to confront it. We have to confront it. We cannot let this keep happening. And no matter what happens from now on, we have to remember that one basic fact. And that, more than anything, is what I hope folks get out of the conversation with me and Brett today. But again, brother, I’m so grateful to you for making time for this. And I’m so grateful for the chance to sort of get to talk to you on the show about this because as we were discussing, I’ve been doing the show for years talking to workers, union workers, non-union workers, people all around the country, but talking to them not just about their jobs, but about their lives, who they are, where they come from, what makes us us. 

I want to start there, because I also don’t want to send the message that you and your life, your family’s life, are only defined by the horrible, unspeakable thing that happened to you. And I hope that folks, the more that they learn about you and your family, the more they remember the human costs and stakes of everything that we’re talking about here. This is not just a new story. These are our fellow workers who are enduring this, workers like Brett. And so I wanted to start there brother and just ask if we could kind of dig a little more into your story, your life, how you got to be the person that you are. You’re originally from that area in Texas?

Brett Cross: Well first I’d just like to thank you for this opportunity because anytime I do get talked to or anytime I do talk it is about the shooting and the aftermath. And one thing about everything is, at this point, I don’t want to be known as Brett Cross. When people see me, they say Uzi’s dad,” and that means the world to me. But there is that side of me. There is the Brett Cross, the human, the dad, and everything. So, I started off working in the oil field. I’m originally from West Texas, a little town called McCamey. That’s about an hour south of Odessa, which is the only way to describe it because it’s 1,200 people, or was when I lived there. I started off in a little field doing roustabout and pulling units and then moved up to pipeline, which I loved to do. I pipelined for a few years and I absolutely loved it. I started off digging ditches and moved all the way up to being a foreman of jobs.

Maximillian Alvarez: I gotta call timeout real quick. What did you love so much about digging ditches? 

Brett Cross: It wasn’t the ditches. I didn’t stay on the ditches for too long. I stayed on there for about maybe two months. And then I moved up to helper for the back hose and the track hose and everything like that Those first few months suck digging ditches. You know, you gotta start somewhere, right? You don’t just get to get in and be boss and everything. I was a foreman by the time I was 19, running jobs and what not. And then, I got injured on the job. And the company tried to screw me over and everything. So I just ended up quitting. Worked roustabout a little bit more after that once I could walk again, because I tore the ligaments and tendons in my ankle. And then I went to roustabout and I stayed there for a year and then I got into wind. So for the past decade, I was in wind energy, the turbines and everything., I worked at the site that I was at for around six years back in my hometown. And then me and my boss got into it.

Maximillian Alvarez: And as one does.

Brett Cross: Yeah, I ended up without a job, though. I ended up catching a job here in Bracketville, which is like 45 miles west of Uvalde, give or take. And so when we were looking to move, we were looking at Bracketville, which is a town smaller than the one we came from, looked at Del Rio, which is a bigger town of about 30,000 people, but then ended up settling in Uvalde because it was only an hour from San Antonio. So it was easier to just if we needed to do something or take the kids out or whatever, it was easier to do so. And so yeah, I did that for I believe it was four years here. Got to the point where I didn’t even have to climb as much as I used to because the other guys would climb up and they would call me if they had a problem. I’d tell them how to fix it. So I got to spend a lot of time in the office towards the end of my run. That’s the work history.

“I believe that most of the country is like, 'This happens on TV. This doesn't happen here.' Except in America at this point, it's not a matter of if it's going to happen to you, it’s a matter of when.”

Maximillian Alvarez: That’s, wow, I mean a foreman by the time you’re 19, that’s pretty intense. I’m trying to think of myself as a dumbass 19 year old, I wouldn’t trust myself with a phillips screwdriver at that point, let alone a foreman of an entire operation at a drilling site. I wanted to just ask one question about that, because you even mentioned that you were looking at places to move that were about the same size., I’m from Southern California, like the LA Orange County Park, so I couldn’t have grown up in a more different setting where it’s just endless grid. From the mountains to the beach, endless grid, endless freeways. So when I hear that you grew up in a town of 1,200 people, my mind immediately is like, what is that? I guess I just wanted to ask like, for folks, we don’t have to dig deep into it, but for folks who have never grown up in a small town, let alone a small western Texas town, what do you think folks from the outside don’t know or what most should know about what life is like for y’all growing up in a situation like that?

Brett Cross: So the number one thing, and I find this funny as hell because movies and everything get it wrong, we all don’t wear cowboy hats, first and foremost. I mean, you see me, I don’t look like the Texans on TV. My graduating class was 52 people. So our graduation ceremonies are three hours long but everybody speaks, everybody does the, shit, what’s that called where they give you money to go to college, all of that, right? Everybody does that, but the main thing I would think is that we had to drive an hour to a Walmart, an hour to the movie theaters. We had to drive at least 20 minutes for fast food. Like you live just in this little bubble of light and it is so weird because growing up in a small town like that, there’s endless trouble to get into that isn’t trouble in the small town, you know, like, growing up, my mom would just tell us, Be home by the time the streetlights come on.” We didn’t have to worry about anything. We rode our bikes everywhere. And so it was a real simple. Not really any cares, unless you needed to go to Walmart, which then you had make day trips out of it.

Maximillian Alvarez: It’s like, Everyone get into the covered wagon. We’re going to Walmart.”

Brett Cross: Pretty much, pretty much. You’re like, alright, we gotta go to Walmart. Okay, well, it’s an hour there. So if you start at eight in the morning, it’s an hour there. And then an hour or two in Walmart and by then it’s like, okay, well, we’re starting to get hungry. So then you do lunch. And then you’re like, okay, well, we have to go and buy this and this. So it would be all day trips just to go to Walmart. Whereas like here now I was so excited that I could drive down the road and go to a Walmart. It was crazy. And then COVID happened and then Walmart’s aren’t 24 hours anymore, so that sucks. But, you know.

Maximillian Alvarez: You’ve got to make your own fun as a kid.

Brett Cross: Oh, yeah. A lot of wandering around. A lot of doing stuff that you shouldn’t. So like, there’s a lot of land, too, everywhere around and it’s a big oil filled area in West Texas. So, you would end up in properties that you probably shouldn’t have ended up in just riding your bike and going to your friend’s house, you might go through three different people’s property and just try to run through as fast as you can. Like I said, it was real simple. And quiet, for the most part.

Maximillian Alvarez: It’s funny, because I think the closest I’ve gotten to that is when I moved from California to the Midwest, and granted, I was still closer to things, like there was a Meijer down the street, but when winter hits and it’s like five feet of snow, it might as well be on the moon and you’re like, well fuck, do I like do I really want the cereal and milk that much? Or can I get by without it? Like, if I’m going once, I ain’t going out again so tell me what you guys need now.

Brett Cross: Exactly.

Maximillian Alvarez: And also, I’m just a Southern California Mexican boy. I do not do well with the cold, so I also was bitching and moaning the whole time. But that’s another story.

Brett Cross: You and me both, brother. That was the one thing I hated about wind turbines. So on turbines, in the winter you’re in an icebox and in the summer you’re in the oven. So down here we see a lot of days in the 100-plus degrees. You’ll have weeks in 110. And then when you’re inside a steel turbine, it’s just cooking you. So it’d be like 135-140 in there and you’re working.

Maximillian Alvarez: Jeez, man, that makes the hairs on my neck stand up because now I’m remembering being back in a warehouse in Southern California that was like that. It was like, I would go outside in the sun to cool off. Or if you’re in the back of an 18 Wheeler unloading that shit, you are cooking, you are literally cooking.

Brett Cross: Absolutely. And then it’s even worse in the cold, too, because it’s just an icebox and you’re freezing and everything. And that’s one thing about me, if my feet get cold, I’m done. I don’t care about my boss. I don’t care about his feelings. I don’t care about nothing. If my bones get cold in my feet, I’m done. I’m not doing nothing. So yeah, we had that big winter storm here a few years ago, The one where Ted Cruz went off to Mexico and everything, it shut us down, dude, it shut us down. We didn’t have electricity for five days. I had a fire going outside the whole time.

A photo of Uziyah Garcia, 10, who died in the mass shooting, is placed at a makeshift memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 30, 2022. CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

Maximillian Alvarez: That’s no joke. I mean, we were literally in Austin, me and my colleagues, Marc Steiner and Kayla Rivara, we were there at the end of September reporting on this Deathstar bill, that I mean, for folks who are listening who don’t know, I’ll just give you the SparkNotes version. This is a big bill that we’re reporting on at The Real News, but the whole point of it is that Governor Abbott and the Republicans in the Statehouse are stripping the ability of local governments to regulate shit, and to pass ordinances like, outdoor workers in Texas should get mandated water breaks in places like Austin. And so now people who are working in the kind of conditions that Brett’s describing, in Texas, supposedly legally no city or town or county has the right to mandate that these workers get water breaks to save their lives. That is the level of ridiculous that we’re talking about here. And we haven’t even gotten to the shooting yet. So I mean just buckle in, because we’re gonna get even more ridiculous as we go on. I just couldn’t not point out how absurd it is that everything you’re describing, amidst all that, they’re trying to take water breaks away from workers at this point.

Brett Cross: Yeah. That’s just Abbott in and of himself. He wants to destroy everything. But luckily there is OSHA, and you have to have water breaks. So even if he wins or whatever on that bill, these companies are going to make sure of that, or if not they’re gonna have lawsuits on their hands. Because, first of all, you’re only as good as your employees. If you don’t treat your employee right, your employee ain’t gonna treat you right and then they won’t give a fuck about the job. I’ve been there myself. When bosses started treating me poorly, I’m like, well, fine, then I’ll just eight and skate and not go above and beyond. IIt’s really up to the bosses and to like the people carrying out OSHA mandates in every stage.

Maximillian Alvarez: And to anyone listening to this, you gotta speak up. You gotta advocate. Don’t let them do this crap to you. You know your body best. If you’re outside working and you need water, go get that damn water. No job is worth your life. So I just want to stress that before we move on.

Brett Cross: And not just that, but your job will hire somebody the day of your funeral. They don’t care. The companies as a whole, they do not care. You’re replaceable, as unfortunate as that sounds. So take care of yourself because you only got one life. These companies have millions of people wanting to work, so protect yourself.

Maximillian Alvarez: Damn. That’s beautifully and powerfully put, brother. There was one other thing that just jumped out to me. It connects our childhoods that are otherwise very different. Having grown up in Southern California, in the kind of area where the oil rush was, in the hills in Orange County there’s still those old rickety-ass oil rigs and towers dotting the hills of my childhood. So of course, my brothers and my friends and I, we would go climbing up those stupid things. And we really shouldn’t have been.

Brett Cross: No, exactly. We used to ride pump jacks. Pump jacks are those things that, you know, they teeter and everything. 

Maximillian Alvarez: So you’re riding it like a horse?

Brett Cross: We would ride those. And looking back, I’m like, man, that was stupid. But at the time there ain’t nothing to do, so you might as well make the best out of it. So yeah, I can officially say that I’ve ridden pump jacks.

Maximillian Alvarez: Oh my God, that’s hilarious. That was the one thing we didn’t do. But we probably got much closer than any of us would care to admit. We were like, who’s gonna do it? But yeah, like, it just looks so inviting. You want to hop on there and pretend you’re riding a dragon or some shit. I guess for anyone listening, please don’t do that.

Brett Cross: And actually, don’t do anything that I say because I get into trouble apparently.

Maximillian Alvarez: Do as I say, not as I do. Wise words to live by. I want to ask what it was like moving to Uvalde. Because that’s still, it’s bigger than 1,200 people, but not by a whole lot, we’re talking like 15,000 people?

Brett Cross: There’s about 15,000. And the thing is that when we moved here– so when I work I put a lot into it. I’m the guy that my bosses would call and be like, Hey, we need you to come stay the night out at the site because we don’t have comms.” I liked overtime. I didn’t like working the overtime per se but I liked overtime pay. That was a hard thing to manage, between being a father and being a husband and still putting food on the table and everything. I’m the guy that’s like, if I work hard, eventually they’ll see and then I can take that next step. Because, man, I was starting to get old already,. My knees are shot. My back is shot. I’ve been doing these rough and crazy jobs my whole adult life. 

And so Uvalde wasn’t anything different to me, really, aside from that I got to go to Walmart, I got to order Sonic. There is some movie theater here, wasn’t the greatest, but there was one here. Aside from that, it was just like, I worked. And I came home to be with my kids and my wife. I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t have any friends. Like my only friends here were the guys that I worked with, who weren’t from here, either. All of the guys that I worked with came from other places across Texas. Uvalde didn’t mean anything to me, it was just, alright, here’s the next step in my career, if something better comes along, I’ll take it. If not, this is a good site to work at.We called it a retirement site because you either go there to start your career, because it was chill, or you went there to end your career, because it was chill. I didn’t mess with anybody really. I would go to work, come home. If my kids were in sports, I would take them., That was probably the biggest thing because back home, I would coach my son’s Teeball and his flag football, and over here, I lost a lot of time to be able to do that. But it was so much bigger that the people that ran that, that they already had it. They didn’t need any more coaches or anything like that. So I mean, aside from literally just chillin with my kids and my wife, I didn’t go around Uvalde.

“You go home, and you keep doing the same thing over and over, thinking that that just happens on TV. That's never gonna happen here. Until it does.”

Maximillian Alvarez: I want to just hover on that for a second before we talk about Uvalde because, again, I want people to remember the stakes of this and the reality of this and I also want us to remember the full picture of you and your family making a life together. And I just wanted to ask if there are memories that stick out or things from that moment before everything changed that really stick out as precious memories that you want to hold on to or things that you want folks to also think of and remember when we talk about what happened at Robb Elementary.

Brett Cross: So, we’re a really tight knit family. So I can’t even hold just like one memory because we do everything together at all times, for the most part. But I will say like, I’m not a religious man or anything, but I like to give my kids somewhat of the childhood that I did, you know, the better parts, so we celebrate every holiday, Halloween is our favorite because we like horror and we like dressing up and everything.

Maximillian Alvarez: Bro, our family, we were the embarrassing Mexican house on the street that went all out for Halloween. So I’m with you.

Brett Cross: Yeah, so you know, we do everything and, like I said, we didn’t know people here so we just do stuff together. But our Easter’s were always fun because what we would do is get the confetti eggs. I would hide them, then the kids would go around picking them up, and it was just an all out war of just smacking each other with the eggs. One of the pictures that I have of Uzi, well there’s several from our last Easter together, but you can see the confetti over everyone. It was always unfair to me because I hid them so I couldn’t find them, so my kids would just be nailing me with those confetti eggs and everything and I’m having to like pick them up and body slam them trying to steal some eggs. We’d like playing, and this is gonna sound weird, but we’d play Monopoly together and nobody flips the table. There’s a lot of shit talking. All of my children are really good at talking shit and letting you know that they’re gonna win. 

So yeah we’d just do a lot of things together. We’d game together. We would play Fortnite. We’d have several, at the time they were PS4’s we’d have like five PS4’s in the house just so that we could all jump on games and play together. So like I said, mostly we’re just really tight and we did everything together. You know, go to the rivers together and just have fun because there was always work and school and everything. So when we got to have fun, we did it big for just our family.

Maximillian Alvarez: I love that, man. And, as far as shit talking goes, the apple don’t fall far from the tree I’m sure. They learned that from somewhere.

Brett Cross: Not at all, my kids say the wildest shit and I absolutely love it. Like if they find a weakness, they go for it. And not in a mean and malicious way, just in a joking way, but man they’re vicious. But they learned from the best. So they always try to push it out, but I always remind them, I’m like, Y’all know where y’all got that, right?”

Maximillian Alvarez: Don’t step to the king, baby.

Brett Cross: I always tell my kids, I’m like, You might think you’re Billy Badass until you meet Billy Badass. And your daddy is Billy Badass, though.”

Maximillian Alvarez: This sounds so much like my family. It’s cracking me up. We talk so much shit. Whether it’s poker or like a dumb game we came up with in the pool, immediately everyone’s talking shit. So I identify with this a lot.

Brett Cross: And we’re competitive as hell. Nobody likes to lose in my family, so like we go all out, man, just running the mouth.

Maximillian Alvarez: I love it, man. It makes it more fun. So I’m all for it. And again, the fact that you guys can play Monopoly without it ending in like someone moving away is a sign of a strong family. 

Brett Cross: It’s so bad that we collect different Monopoly boards. We have 20-some different monopoly boards. So it’s just at that point where the kids are like, Alright, do you want to play Spider Man monopoly?” I’m like, Do you want me to whoop your ass? Like, I’ll do it.”

Maximillain Alvarez: What theme do you want to have your ass whooped to today?

Brett Cross: Exactly, We can do princesses if you’d like, I don’t care.”

Maximillian Alvarez: Still gonna take that Boardwalk, baby. I love that. I’m so glad that you shared that with us. Because again, that’s what I really want people to be thinking about as well and cherishing and knowing just how we can go from that to what happened at Robb Elementary. Before we get there I just want to kind of ask this question, since we’re talking about living in a small town, living in a tight knit family, tight knit communities. I feel like one thing that has really changed in America since Columbine, because you and I both remember Columbine, we remember how shocked the country was that it not only that it happened, but that it happened where it happened and in the way that it did, and it feels like we’ve just been going further into hell ever since then, while claiming that this is never going to happen again. And it happens every goddamn month in this country. 

So how did we get there? But like, the question that really kind of sticks out to me is, I think in the years after Columbine and until recently, I think a lot of the ways people would talk about this is like, we never thought it could happen here. Like this always felt like something that happened somewhere else. But I really feel like something is broken in our culture where now people are less surprised when it happens where they live. Or maybe even they’re expecting it. It’s a call that no parent should ever expect, but more parents in this country are preparing themselves for it than ever before. If that’s not a sign of a broken fucking country, I don’t know what is. But the point of bringing it up is like, did you feel that way? Did it feel like this is the kind of place where this could never happen? 

“This country has become so desensitized that it's really funny, because I get this question a lot: ‘And what shooting was he from?’”

Brett Cross: Absolutely, 100%. And that is one of my biggest regrets in life. Because this doesn’t happen in Texas, in Texas, of all places. In Texas we’re good guys with a gun, that will stop anything, and it doesn’t happen. But you know, they failed to talk about Waco, they failed to talk about Sutherland Springs, they failed to talk about Santa Fe, and these are all mass shootings. I don’t think people are preparing in the sense that they think that it will happen to them. Because I believe that most of the country is like, This happens on TV. This doesn’t happen here.” Except in America at this point, it’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen to you, it’s a matter of when, and unfortunately, that’s why we try to do what we do, and that’s to get people to fight beforehand. 

Because you know, I remember I was young when Columbine happened, but I remember it was crazy. And then the next big one that I really remembered was Santa Fe. I mean, I was working and I had kids at that age and I remember being at work when the news broke. And I’m like, Man that sucks. Well, I gotta get back to work because this tower isn’t going to fix itself.” You go home, you hug your kids a little bit tighter that day. You know, you do all of these things for the next few weeks, and then it’s over. And then you don’t think about it again. And then Parkland happens, and once again, I’m at work when it happens. And,“Well, fuck, that sucks. Well, Igotta go fix this turbine because it ain’t going to fix itself.” You go home, and you keep doing the same thing over and thinking that that just happens on TV. That’s never gonna happen here. Until it does, until it does. 

And then there’s a lot of things that happen after that, that you don’t even realize like, I bet everybody listening to this can tell you the names of who committed that act at Columbine, but can they tell you the name of the victims? And that’s the hard part. And that is something that I realized early on. And I remembered when I’m first making these connections with these other parents from all these different shootings, I know parents from Columbine, I know parents from Parkland, and from Sandy Hook and everything like that. And my thing was, I called them and I apologized. I apologized because I said, I didn’t know your kid’s name.” And that is one of the driving forces. Well before I even get there, they would apologize back to me, they’d say, We’re sorry, we haven’t done enough that now you’re in this fight with us.” And it’s a very surreal moment, because you have two people in the same space and in the same club that we don’t want any more people to join, but you have a parent saying, I’m sorry, I didn’t fight beforehand,” and you have other parents saying, I’m sorry that we’ve been fighting, but nothing’s getting done.” And then you come together on that. And it makes you think. 

One of the main reasons why I fight as hard as I do, it is extremely selfish of me that the number one reason that I fight is so that my son is remembered and that he’s not a statistic. I don’t want him to be remembered as Kid 18 out of 21, from the Uvalde shooting. I don’t want him to be remembered as one out of the 40,000, or whatever the number is, that were murdered in 2022. I don’t want that because he wasn’t a number. He was real. He was larger than life to us. And so, I want the world to think that. 

And that, like I said, is selfish, because that is my main goal, to make sure that he’s remembered. Followed very, very closely behind by making changes to prevent it. But this country has become so desensitized that it’s really funny, because I get this question a lot, And what shooting was he from?” It happens that fucking much. And I don’t even take offense to it, because one, I’m going to educate you real quick, but two, it happens that much that we as a society can’t even keep up with it. And so it’s the questions like that, where it keeps me going, like, no, I have to keep talking about him and I have to keep fighting for him. You know, everything that we do is for him, and even on that note, no matter what I say, no matter what I do, no matter what changes I make in this country in his name, he’s never coming back. But I can prevent another parent from having to do this.

Maximillian Alvarez: Man, I genuinely cannot imagine that weight. I really can’t. I am nothing but grateful to you for using all that pain and trying to make something good out of it. And I was just going to ask like, because I think this is really important, what you just said, for so many reasons, but also for the conversation we’re having now, I want to ask you in a second, for as much or as little as you want to share, about your memories of that day. But before we do, I want to start with what you just said. I want people, before we talk about that, to remember your son, Uziyah. What do you most want folks to know about your son? What’s the memory you want to uphold for folks?

Brett Cross: Every parent is going to be biased. And I’m extremely biased. But at the same time, I truly have not met another person that cared and loved as much as he did. He hated seeing people sad. He would go out of his way to make you laugh, to take your mind off of whatever it was, even for a few seconds. Funny faces and funny voices, flipping around the room, just whatever he could. And he was just so helpful that, you know, we sat down with him one day, like we do with all of our kids, and we were talking to him and my wife and I asked him, what do you want to be when you grow up?” And he goes, Well, I want to be a YouTuber.” Like, every kid wants to be a YouTuber, right? And so we told him, We’ll help, we’ll get you whatever you need to start it and we’ll help you”, but you’re 10 at the time and you’re not thinking realistically, so we’re like, But realistically, everybody wants to be a YouTuber. You might not make it. So let’s have a fallback plan, something else that you can do in case the YouTube doesn’t take off.” And he goes, Well, then I want to be a cop, so that I can help people the way that you all help me.”And that was him. That was him. 

And, his energy was just always a million. He never stopped. He would wait for me after work. My work, sometimes I’d get out at 3:30, sometimes it wouldn’t be until nine o’clock at night, but he’d always be there and he’d want to race. That’s another regret that I have, too, is that I wouldn’t race every day. Because, I get home at nine o’clock and I’m like, Buddy, I’m just tired. I need to eat and I need to go to bed.” But he was always there. He was our little energizer bunny. I mean, he just kept going and going and going nonstop. And even when he was sad about something, if he saw that you were sad, he would completely change to just make you smile even for just a few seconds.

Maximillian Alvarez: Thank you for sharing that with us, brother. I really appreciate it. And again, like what can I say? I will just say, as someone who interviews other workers for a living, about their lives, about their families, and who hears every single week how much this world demands from us every day, demands from working people, and I think one of the most common refrains I hear from people is I just wish I had more time.” And if I’m hearing that from people, not just like you, but I’m hearing it from Frito-lay workers on strike, I’m hearing it from nurses, I’m hearing it from car manufacturers, something is more deeply wrong here with how little time we allow ourselves and our fellow workers, how much time we actually have to be with our families to do the things that make life worth living. If there’s any comfort you can take in that I just want to assure you that it’s not all you man, this country demands way too much from us and gives back way too little.

Brett Cross: 100 percent, man.

Maximillian Alvarez: And the other thing that this makes me think of, when you were talking about how it’s not a matter of if this will happen to you, but when, that is also what people who I’ve been interviewing for all the past year in East Palestine, Ohio, have been telling me. If folks remember, this is where the Norfolk Southern train derailed a year ago, they lit all those toxic chemicals on fire. And now that community is poisoned. People don’t know if their kids are getting cancer playing in the grass or breathing in the fumes. It’s a nightmare. But what they have all kept saying is that this isn’t just a one off tragedy. There are over 1000 derailments happening around the country every year. This could literally happen again in your backyard tomorrow. 

And like, like we gotta do something about this because we’re going to run out of zones” to sacrifice at this point, we’re going to run out of school districts where people can feel safe if we don’t do anything. And the thing I really want to stress for folks listening is just like the people we’ve been talking to in East Palestine are working people like you and me, even if we’re not talking about their jobs, but we’re talking about this thing that is happening in their lives while they’re still trying to work and live and make a living for their families, that’s what we’re talking about here with Brett. Brett was at work when he got that call. Like, these are our communities. This is not someone else this is happening to. And the sooner we recognize that, the better. I want to just ask again, really just following your lead, we do not have to talk at length about it, I know you’ve talked about it many times so if folks want to listen to that they can find it, but I just wanted to ask if there are memories or points that stick out in your memory from that day that you really want listeners to remember. 

“This dude let the whole world know, before we knew, that our kids were murdered.”

Brett Cross: Yeah, and I can go through the whole day. In fact, it starts the night previously. I didn’t see Uzi the day of the shooting. The last time I saw him was around 10 o’clock the night before. He was sitting at the table, playing with his phone. I just walked in there, I’m like, Hey, bud, it’s time to go to bed.” I ruffled his hair, kissed the top of his head and told him to go to bed. And he said, Yes, sir.” And he went upstairs. I didn’t realize at that moment that that would be the last time that I saw him because I would have held on hard. 

But you know, I got up to go to work, it was 5 or 5:30 in the morning. I drove 45 minutes or whatever to work. It was just like a normal day, man. I’m sitting there in the office. I’m making booklets and pamphlets so that my co-workers can do something and have it go towards them getting a raise. You fill out all of these things, OJT’s pretty much, you fill these out and you’re a step closer to your promotion. And I’m working on those and I get a call from my wife. And I just hear her screaming. And she says, This is not a fucking joke. There’s a shooter at the boys’ school.” So I had two kids in that school. At the same time, they were both in fourth grade. Their classrooms were three rooms apart. One of my sons was not there that day. He was at home. And so that was just a little context. But my wife because she’s like, This is not a fucking joke there’s a shooter at the boy’s school.” And then I’m like, Okay,” and then I hang up or she hangs up. I can’t really remember who hung up. But then I look at my lead tech, and I look at him and I said, Dude, there’s a shooter at my kid’s school,” like in disbelief. I couldn’t, this isn’t real, you know. And he looks at me for a second and he goes, Well then get the fuck out of here.” 

And so I just ran to my car and got into it. I started driving, I’m going 100 or 105, whatever my little piece of shit car would go. And I see cops passing. And at first, when they started coming up on me, I’m like, they can arrest me when I get to the school because I’m not stopping. But they just start passing me. Every day, I had to drive to a border patrol station to come home where they stop you and they ask you, Are you an American citizen” and all of that. They had it wide open. And so I just I’m calling after my wife calls me. And she was like, hurry, hurry, hurry, get here. He’s in the fourth grade wing.” And so I’m talking to her. And you know, at that moment, I hear a pop pop pop pop.” I hear four shots and my wife just lets out a hellacious scream and I’m like, I’m getting there as fast as I can. So I just keep driving. And as I’m pulling in the town, I get another call from my wife. And she’s like, just go to the civic center. They’re not letting us near the kids. They’re not letting us do anything. They’re making us leave, go to the civic center.” Mind you, my wife got there to the school, before the school even sent out alerts. So the way we found out was my daughter that was in high school, texted my wife and said, Hey, there’s a shooter at the boys school.” And my wife was like, Quit playing with me.” My daughter had a video of the kid walking into the school. So a kid from across the street took it on Snapchat or something and sent it to the high school. So we knew before anything. And my wife hauled ass and was there pretty much damn near the whole time. Before any school alerts, before any police alerts or anything, my wife was there. 

She was getting pushed around by cops. They were yelling at her. She would be saying, Hey, get in there” and everything. And the cops would be like, Oh, well, we would have if we didn’t have to deal with you fucks.” Shit like that. And so by the time I get into town, I’m guessing and trying to get my memory correct on if the shooter was already dead at that point. I don’t know. Like, we didn’t know anything. But looking back, I think he had already been taken out because they were trying to transport kids. I get to the Civic Center. I’m one of the first ones there. And I’m waiting. And, it’s just, it’s like a fever dream because you’re like, what the fuck do I do? I’m just standing here. What do I do? Okay, I gotta wait for him. 

Because they’re like, Well, we’re gonna start dropping off kids by buses. If your child’s teacher is called, then your kid is here, go inside.” I was there before the buses came. My wife finally shows up. The buses are coming in and every time a bus comes that his teacher’s name wasn’t called. It was a gut punch. It was like, fuck. And so at that point, I called my other son who was at home, and I said, Hey, I can’t get a hold of Uzi. Nobody knows where he’s at. Can you call his friends?” And he goes, Yeah, I’ll try.” About 5-10 minutes later, he calls me back and he goes, Dad, nobody can get a hold of Uzi,” and he goes, But they’re saying his teacher was shot.” And at that moment, I knew, I just knew. And we still had to wait. 

We waited, we waited, we waited the agonizing minutes, hours. And then they finally tell us they’re like, Okay, all of you all who are still here, come inside the civic center. There’s no more buses coming.” And at that point, words getting around on social media and people are talking and they’re saying, Oh, well, the kids ran to the funeral home, or they ran into the neighborhood,” and everything like that. And one of Uzi’s best friends lived right down the road from Robb. And he would go there after school sometimes. They would just walk to his house because it was literally like 700 feet maybe, like it wasn’t far at all. And so my wife is like, Alright you stay here in case they show up. I’m going to go and look for him.” So she went to the funeral home, but he wasn’t there. She checked the neighborhood, wasn’t there. Went to the hospital, and they can’t tell her if he’s there or not. So she comes back. And then at that moment, we’re sitting there and all of a sudden, people are scrolling through Facebook trying to put out, Have you seen my kid?” And Abbott is on. I don’t I don’t know what he was doing. But we saw it on Facebook. And he was saying, in Uvalde, there were 14 kids killed and one teacher, which as we know now was wrong. But at the time you’re looking around and start counting, you’re like 123, there’s about 13-14 other families here. And it’s just like, this dude let the whole world know before we knew that our kids were murdered. 

So we’re still waiting. We’re asking the Texas Rangers. We’re like, Can you tell us anything?” They wouldn’t tell us why, but they’re like, What were they wearing and everything?” And my wife was like, Well, he had on these shoes.” But wouldn’t tell us why. And so, around that time, I had to go pick up my other kid from school. My high school girls, they walked home. I can’t remember 100 percent. But I didn’t have to pick them up. But I had to pick up my youngest one who was in the first grade at the time. So I’ll pick them up. And it took about two hours of me sitting in line while my wife was at the Civic Center and we’re trying to find Uzi but I have to pick up my other kid. It took about two hours and I finally picked them up and they asked, Hey, where’s Uzi?” The only thing I could think of was just to tell them, Hey, I picked you up first.” Because they didn’t know what was going on. 

And so I took them to the house, went back up to the civic center, about eight o’clock when they call us back and we’re like one of the first ones. They call us back. They tell my wife to sit down. She sits down. They tell me to sit down. I’m like, No, I’m good standing.” And the detective, he just goes, I hate to tell you this, but Uziyah was one of the victims.” And if you’ve never heard a mother lose a child, it is the worst sound in the entire world. There is a guttural pain that you hear that is indescribable. And the closest thing that I can say I’ve heard to it was, if you’ve ever watched the play Hamilton, when the mother loses her son, that screen and she lets out, that’s about the closest I can tell you about what it sounds like. And the first thing I do, I look at that officer and I just tell him, Where the fuck is that son of a bitch? I’m gonna kill him.” And he was like, Well, he’s been murdered,” or he’s been taken out or whatever he said. And then it’s just, boom, that’s it. My world right there just crumbled, fell apart. And you’re just sitting there like an abyss of nothingness, because you can’t comprehend it. I still to this day, it’s been almost two years now, and I still can’t comprehend the fact that my son is not going to walk through that door ever again.

So the news is everywhere, right? And so I walk out to the front, I have a blank look on my face. I go to get our car. I drive it around the back of the civic center to pick up my wife. And then we go home. And we’re driving home. And my wife, she’s bawling. She goes, What do we tell the kids?” She goes, I can’t tell them. I can’t tell them.” And so I said, You wait outside for a second, I’ll go in. And I’ll tell them.” 

And so I’d already called out my older children to have everybody down in the living room. And when I walked in, they’re anxious and they’re nervous and they know that something’s happened, but they don’t know why. And so I just told him, I said, Guys, Uzi was killed. He’s not coming back.” And I had two kids just drop to the floor. One of my older kids was trying to hold on to them. I’m holding them. I had another kid that ran outside. And it was the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do, was tell my kids that their brother wasn’t coming home ever again. And then I didn’t sleep for about three days.

Sign up for our weekend newsletter
A weekly digest of our best coverage

Maximillian Alvarez: No parent should ever have to go through that. And I’m so sorry that you guys went through that. And I’m sorry that this country failed your family so much. And that this fucking shithole of a society continues to let this happen. And, I don’t know. There’s nothing I can say that will get through to people more than what you just heard from Brett. I’m begging you guys to listen, to stop letting this happen, to stop accepting this as acceptable. This is as unacceptable as it gets. If your society permits the annual slaughter of schoolchildren and nothing changes, that is not a society worth a damn, or worth saving. Like you’ve got to start over. We’re so far gone to allow this kind of pain and this kind of horror to just become commonplace. 

And I know that that is the fight that you and your wife have fully committed to yourself after this. And I want to just let your story be there for folks. I want folks to just listen to that. And I know I don’t have too long with you but I want to focus on the last part of it, on that fight. And basically what’s happened since. Where are you and your wife, your family with this fight? Is there any movement on the government side? What can people do to join you to stop this madness?

Brett Cross: So before I get into that, I will say this as well. Just a few things. One, it was quiet. The world is burning down around us. But it was quiet. And what I mean by that is, I have a big house. And I mean, I have a lot of kids. I have six living kids at this moment. And so, my house is always loud, always bustling. Kids are fighting and screaming and playing and yelling. And I mean, there’s six kids, it’s just never quiet. It was quiet. It was quiet for the longest time. 

Uzi and my other son, their room was literally right above ours. We would hear them every night and everything, 10:30 at night, little boys still playing around and everything because they don’t want to go to bed. So we would have to yell , boys, quiet down. So it’s quiet. Especially in the beginning. My kids are starting to come around and make more noise and everything. But it’s deafening, the quiet is. 

We didn’t have his funeral until three weeks after. They wouldn’t even let us see his body for about three weeks. We finally got to have his funeral on June 13. And honestly, like, we weren’t going to fight. And then misinformation started getting printed. And then we’re hearing that these cops just waited outside and that they didn’t do nothing. And that Abbott is continuously loosening these gun laws, and it just pissed me off, man. And so the weekend after Uzi’s funeral, we had our first protest. And we would set up every Saturday and Sunday at the Plaza in the middle of town holding up signs calling for accountability, first for the chief of the school police, who is the one that kept saying, Oh, there’s time on our side. We know that there’s children dying in there and they’re gonna hate us for that but we have to do it this way,” or whatever.

“If your society permits the annual slaughter of schoolchildren and nothing changes, that is not a society worth a damn.”

Maximillian Alvarez: And just to remind folks, we’re talking an hour and 14 fucking minutes. Different police forces that were there. We had marshalls there, we had local police, we had state police, and they sat on their asses for over an hour. Sorry, I just wanted to add that.

Brett Cross: Three hundred and seventy-six officers from varying different agencies sat there for 77 minutes. And so we started fighting, and it wasn’t until August 24, which is three months to the day since we lost Uzi that they finally fired him. It took them three months to do so. And he was still a city council member. And so we had to get him taken away from that as well. At first, this community seemed well knit. And I can’t thank people enough. I don’t think we had to worry about food until like, June 15 because people were doing food transport, helping us. I wasn’t really going to get into anything, but as time went on, it was, All the cops didn’t do anything wrong.” And oh, We need to just sweep this under the rug, we need to move on.” Nuh-uh, nuh-uh. And then the videos start coming out, showing that they’re just sitting there, showing them saying Yeah, there’s kids in there but, you know, whatever,” pretty much. 

So I believe it was September 27, and I could be wrong, but late September, I staged a sit out outside of the school administration building. In the beginning, I never called for anyone to get fired. I called for them to do an investigation and have them suspended until the investigation was complete. And they wouldn’t do it. They wouldn’t do it. And so I think out of all 376 officers that were there, only five have been reprimanded. And so these cops, they’re out on the streets. They’ll give you a ticket, you’ll see them at Walmart, you’ll see them at your local H-E-B, your grocery store, you’ll see them everywhere and they don’t care. And so I was just so pissed off that I let my mouth get the best of me. 

So me and my wife had just come back from DC because we’re pushing federal, we’re pushing state, we’re pushing city, like we’re fighting three, four or five different fronts at one time. It’s hectic. In DC, we saw people getting arrested for sitting in front of the Senate building where the Senate has their offices. For just standing in front of it, they’re getting arrested. And I’m like, fuck it. Me and my wife are like, fuck it. So we get back and we set it up, and we’re gonna go there, and we sit in front of the school administration building. And I got pissed off because one of the guys put his hands on me and shit, and that really irritated me but I stood my ground. And finally the superintendent came. And he was like, Oh, well, we got to get into work and everything.” And I’m like, What work? What work? Your school is part of the reason that my son is dead.” And he just kept saying, Well, we got to get in there.” And I said, I am not moving here until you suspend all of these officers.” 

Ten days later, and with some great reporting, they suspended the whole police force for the school, because they had hired a DPS agent who was under investigation, they had hired her and we had gotten a video where she was saying, Oh, I don’t know what we’re doing out here. If it was my kid in there, I would have been inside.” So we finally got that done. In Texas, we got a bill out of committee, we had to raise the age bill from 18 to 21 to purchase assault rifles. It was a fight. I got kicked out of the Capitol for being too loud. It was a fight to the very end. And we finally got it out of committee, which is something that is like never happened in Texas, because Texas is about loosening gun laws. But we got it out of committee. It didn’t get passed. It didn’t even make it to the calendars to where they’ll put it up on the floor. But we made it. So I didn’t think it was going to make it this time anyways. 

But what I see it as is a beacon as a symbol of hope, that when we stick together and when we bend together as a people and we start to realize that we don’t work for the government. No, no, the government works for us. And if we stand together and we make enough noise, they have to listen to us. Because they’ll try to silence us. They’ll try to make this be quiet. But when parents come together, when children come together, and say enough is enough, we’re tired of getting killed in schools, we’re tired of burying our children, we make a movement. And it might not be very big right now. But every step forward is a step forward. And as long as we’re moving forward to save lives, then I will continue to do it. No matter what.

“Three hundred and seventy-six officers from varying different agencies sat there for 77 minutes. And so we started fighting.”

Maximillian Alvarez: Yeah, man, as we say all the time on this show, no one can do everything but everyone can do something. And I’m so grateful to you, your wife, your community for doing something out of this unimaginable tragedy. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t, ask by way of rounding us out if you had any final words to folks out there listening about the shooting and about this fight and what they can do to get involved themselves wherever they are. What would you tell people who are listening to this and now they know they want to get in this fight, where should they go? And I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that after everything you guys just heard, after knowing about everything this family has been through and all this family have been doing to try to be heard, we are recording this on Tuesday, February 27, and yesterday, this these fuckers arrested Brett for trying to again get accountability, for raising his voice too much. I just wanted to give you a second to just point out how absurd that is. And then please round us out, let folks know what they can do to get involved then I promise I’ll let you go brother.

Brett Cross: So yesterday I was arrested. We went to a county commissioners meeting. The Acting Chief of Police on that day, and when I mean Acting Chief of Police is because our Chief of Police was on vacation, so the guy that was filling in for him had like 27 years experience, some crazy number like that, he was the acting chief of police. He got a call from dispatch saying there are eight to nine kids in there and then he walked off. He didn’t give that information to anyone. He just walked off. 

He is a county commissioner. I don’t like the whole Uvalde strong thing because a lot of people just want to sweep it under the rug. They want us to move on and be quiet and everything like that. I’m a loud mouth so you ain’t gonna fuckin’ quiet me. But he is a county commissioner. So we go to these county commissioner meetings all the time. We’ve missed a couple here and there for different events and shit. But we’re up there, and he finally shows up. This is the fourth county commissioners meeting in 2024. And this is the first one that he showed up to because the DOJ released their report, noting that he failed miserably. So we’re in there. We’re sitting through the regular bullshit County Commissioner meeting. And I had signed up to speak. So it was my turn to speak. And so I do what I always did. And we speak under payroll, because our taxes pay his salary. He let children be murdered and we’re paying his salary. So I was just questioning him on that. Just the same thing, because he will not respond. He sits there with a smug look on his face, like he got away with it, you know? And so I’m just talking, saying the same stuff over and over talking about, Oh, he had 180 hours of leadership training but where was that leadership? If he couldn’t lead his people on that day what makes you think he’s gonna lead a community?”

It’s funny to me, because I get to a point where I’m like, You got the call that there were eight to nine children left in alive in the building, and you walked the fuck away.” And then the judge gets all big and bad and goes, If you’re going to continue to speak, you can’t use that language.” And at that moment, I’m like, This is what you’re upset about, not the fact that you’re sitting literally next to the motherfucker that walked away with that information, who is complicit in our children being murdered? You’re not upset about that? Like you’re literally bumping elbows with the guy. But you’re upset because I said fuck.” I said, Language? I said, my child is fucking dead.” And then I’m in handcuffs. So like, I get arrested for saying the word fuck twice. Like, apparently you can’t do that here in Texas. 

So I get arrested. And if you watch the video on everything, I’m surprised, I’m like, I’m being arrested? And I’m asking, what am I being arrested for? And they cannot tell me. They will not tell me. I get taken to jail. And by the way, huge shout out to my wife because my wife was sick yesterday and she ran all over town, making calls, figuring out what was going on. She was right there when I got out and everything. But it took them three hours to finally book me because they were trying to find out what they could book me for. So I finally got charged with disrupting a meeting or procession. The fun part about that is one, they violated my First Amendment rights. And two, how did I disrupt a meeting when I was signed up to speak? I was involved in the meeting. How do I disrupt a meeting that I’m in? I could see if I was threatening if I was like walking up to them, or if I’m like, Hey, man, fuck you or anything like that, I didn’t do that. And so yeah, I got arrested for disrupting a meeting yesterday. Took them three hours to book me. I was out by hour four. 

And the thing that is the craziest about this is that we’ve been saying this for the past two years, that the people in power, the people in charge here, they’re trying to sweep it under the rug. They want you to forget about it. They want to move on. When these people have made so much money off of our children being murdered, the city has gotten millions, the school has gotten millions, the county has gotten millions, and then they want us to shut up. But they brought it to light. They screwed themselves because now the world gets to see that everything that I’ve been saying for the past two years, that they make up trumped up charges, they try to get us in trouble, they try to silence us, is factual. It isn’t just me saying this and looking like a conspiracy theorist or something. There is evidence now. I got arrested for saying fuck. Only in Texas. Only in Texas. It was wild. 

But you know, to your other question about some of the things that people can do, I read the DOJ report every night on TikTok live to people because, I get it, sometimes you don’t have time to sit down and read but if you can have it on and listen and you can see. We have found so many discrepancies and so many issues. So we do that every night, for the most part. 

TheShot​line​.org is a website that was created by Manny and Patricia Oliver, whose son, Joaquin, was killed in Parkland, and they teamed up with March for our Lives. And what it is, is we regenerated our children’s voices with AI to send a message to Congress asking, when is enough enough. So you will get to hear Uzi’s voice there. And it’s heartbreaking. It is. But it takes 10 seconds to do. You pick a voice. You pick somebody that has been murdered by gun violence, type in your zip code, and it gives you your representatives. Right now we’re already at over 100,000 calls. And if we want it to continue to continue. I want to shut their phone boxes down to show them that people really care. It is so hard to do this fight. I know people see me all the time. I’m always going and I’m always doing it but it is a struggle. It is devastating. And it is so much easier to fight before you’re in my shoes. So fight before you get into my shoes. 

You mentioned earlier, you said you can’t even imagine it. I wrote a song, it’s on Spotify and Apple and it’s called Imagine. Because I would rather you imagine it then live it and that is pretty much the whole premise of it so if anybody wants to check that out follow Change the Ref. Change the Ref is Manny and Patricia Oliver. We’re a lot similar. I’ve got a nonprofit that is so close to being completed and being up called Rise for U. It’s named that way because everything that we do is for Uziyah and for you the people, because as I’ve stated nothing I say or do can bring him back, but I can help you. And so we’ll be doing that. But there are a lot of great organizations, but the thing is that talk is cheap, talk is cheap. You have to walk the walk too. You can’t sit here and be like, I hate this, I don’t want this to happen” and then not do anything. That is why the term thoughts and prayers irritates me so much because prayer without action is null and void. And so call your Senators. Call your representatives. Call your governor. Blow up their phones. It takes five minutes to call any of these people and tell them that you’ve had enough and that you are sick of children dying in schools and at malls and at parking lots and at dance recitals. Gun violence is the number one killer of children from 0 to 19. It’s unacceptable. 

As a parent, your only job in this world is to protect your kid. We are failing. We are failing because we are not protecting our children. We grew up in a time where it was supposed to be that it takes a village to raise a child. Well that village is okay with them being murdered, at this point. We have to change that and that starts with each and every one of us. We can’t do this alone. But at the same time, even if I am the last one standing I’m still going to continue.

Additional information

Permanent links below…

Featured Music…

  • Jules Taylor, Working People” Theme Song
  • Jules Taylor, John L. Handcox Remix”
  • Follow Jules on Twitter and Facebook
Help In These Times Celebrate & Have Your Gift Matched!

In These Times is proud to share that we were recently awarded the 16th Annual Izzy Award from the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College. The Izzy Award goes to an independent outlet, journalist or producer for contributions to culture, politics or journalism created outside traditional corporate structures.

Fellow 2024 Izzy awardees include Trina Reynolds-Tyler and Sarah Conway for their joint investigative series “Missing In Chicago," and journalists Mohammed El-Kurd and Lynzy Billing. The Izzy judges also gave special recognition to Democracy Now! for coverage that documented the destruction wreaked in Gaza and raised Palestinian voices to public awareness.

In These Times is proud to stand alongside our fellow awardees in accepting the 2024 Izzy Award. To help us continue producing award-winning journalism a generous donor has pledged to match any donation, dollar-for-dollar, up to $20,000.

Will you help In These Times celebrate and have your gift matched today? Make a tax-deductible contribution to support independent media.

Maximillian Alvarez is editor-in-chief at the Real News Network and host of the podcast Working People, available at InThe​se​Times​.com. He is also the author of The Work of Living: Working People Talk About Their Lives and the Year the World Broke.

The War on Protest Cover
Get 10 issues for $19.95

Subscribe to the print magazine.