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'There’s a lot of division' | What has happened to 'Uvalde Strong'?

Just as the paint on downtown 'Uvalde Strong' signs has faded or disappeared, some residents say the sentiment behind it appears to have done the same.

UVALDE, Texas — Uvalde Strong. We heard that declaration loud and clear as the community united after the Robb Elementary shooting. Six months later, some say there’s more conflict than consensus.

"When we first spoke, I was very hopeful for our town to heal," Uvalde native Annie Gutierrez told digital anchor Brandi Smith. "Six months later, that’s not the way I feel."

We first introduced you to Annie in late May, less than a week after her community lost 21 lives, back when the words 'Uvalde Strong' seemed to be painted in every window in town.

"I hope Uvalde Strong means we’re going to help each other," she told Brandi back then.

Just as the paint on the signs has faded, cracked and disappeared from downtown 'Uvalde Strong' signs, some residents say the sentiment behind it appears to have done the same.

"There’s a lot of division," Annie said, explaining that she sees a divide between the victims' families and the community.

"Initially, the families were less interested in politics and were dealing with all of their grief," Texas State Sen. Roland Gutierrez said. He represents the Uvalde area. 

"They found advocacy in all of this. They got angry. They’ve gotten angrier." 

We’ve seen those emotions on display in public meetings and outside them.

"All the meetings they attend, their verbal comments, has actually divided us more than united us," Annie said.

"I think that at their core, what they truly want, is for no other parent to have to go through their pain ever again," Gutierrez explained.

The divide seems to have only deepened after the Nov. 8 election in which Uvalde County resoundingly supported Governor Greg Abbott.

A number of parents posted images on social media showing Uvalde Strong upside down

The mother of Maite Rodriguez tweeted, “It’s a good thing your child is alive and able to ride that Uvalde Strong bike and go to the Uvalde Strong Astros game.” She called Uvalde a joke and "a bunch of fake freebie clowns." 

Lexi Rubio’s mother shared, “The anger is harder to suppress than the sadness. Though, I suppose, they are one and the same.”

"I certainly think parents wanted to see a different electoral process play out, so at least they would have some evidence their community was listening to their one specific issue," Gutierrez said.

Six months since that devastating day, now the question is: What do the next six months hold for the community?

"The rest of Texas should be a little more empathetic to what happened to these people," Gutierrez said. "They truly are fighting for them. They truly are fighting for common sense gun solutions so that maybe one less child dies in this way."

Annie said she hopes some of the issues can be resolved and healing can start. Once that happens, she's certain Uvalde can be strong once again.

"We still want to heal and we’re not there yet, unfortunately," Annie said.

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