Courtesy Photo / Julian Rotnofsky
Laredo's "Defund the Wall" mural decorates the street in front of the border city's federal courthouse.
Over the weekend, Laredo residents painted a "Defund the Wall" mural on the street in front of that city's federal courthouse to protest additional funding for a Texas-Mexico border wall.
The mural is the first its kind in the Rio Grande Valley protesting against the Trump Administration's much-touted border barrier.
Volunteers who helped paint the 30-foot letters in yellow traffic paint said its message should be clear: prioritize infrastructure, jobs in education and healthcare, not an expensive, pointless political ploy.
"The government is giving the public a false sense of movement," said activist Raquel de Anda, who helped spearhead the project. "They pretend they have all the cards, but they don't. The wall is not a done deal."
When de Anda and her husband came to visit family in her hometown of Laredo in February, she realized a need for political organization in the border city. The couple sublet their apartment in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed to help.
The mural uses the distinctive yellow lettering featured in Black Lives Matter murals activists have painted on the streets of other cities — including San Antonio — during recent social justice protests.
On August 3, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced a nearly $290 million contract to the Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. to build 17 miles of new border wall in Laredo. Yet, the government hasn't secured the rights to all the land it wants to complete the project.
Rosemary Welsh, a nun with Sisters of Mercy, a former nurse, and 53-year resident of Laredo, said the wall is a slap in the face of Mexicans. For Welsh, the "Defund the Wall" project is a symbol of hope that may bring national attention to the needs of people along the border.
"Defund the wall and fund our future," Welsh said. "It's an obscenity to spend so much on a wall when we need health education and COVID-19 is at a high."
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