New Texas Latino Group Plans Mural, Rally To Activate Civic Engagement

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By Becky FogelMay 12, 2017 12:27 pm

A federal judge has denied Harris County’s attempt to push back a court order related to bail reform. Starting Monday, the county will need to begin releasing indigent inmates awaiting trial on low-level offenses – and it will need to consider a defendant’s ability to pay when setting bail.

Last month, the judge ruled Harris County’s bail system was unconstitutional because it held poor people in jail for misdemeanors just because they couldn’t afford to make bail.

In the swampy Austin, afternoon heat on Thursday, young women painted a large canvas. They were filling in a mural that depicted a proud immigrant mother flanked by her two children.

The artist who designed the portrait is Claudia Gizell Aparicio-Gamundi.

“Now it’s more than ever our time to amplify the immigrant experience and showcase how we built this country and how important it is for us to remain here and not stay silent,” Aparicio-Gamundi says.

The live mural painting was hosted by Jolt – a recently formed non-partisan Latino civic engagement organization in Texas.

“Our mission is to increase Latino voter turnout in Texas,”Jolt communications director Tania Mejia says. “There are 11 million Latinos in Texas. We don’t have a very high voter turnout rate but we know that if we turn out Latinos, especially young millennials we know we can change the politics of Texas and change this state,”

This event and work of art was specifically geared toward honoring immigrant mothers such as the mother of Jolt Executive Director Cristina Tzintzun.

She says highlighting these stories is especially important since Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 4 – the “sanctuary cities” bill – into law earlier this week.

“So we want to honor the courage, the hard work of our mothers and also say that we’re not afraid – we’re not in hiding, we’re proud of who our parents are and what they’ve done for us and that image says all of that,” Tzintzun says.

The mother depicted in the mural, Rosa – who declined to give her last name because she is undocumented – said that after SB 4 was signed into law, she was sad for her children.

“No somos malas personas, no somos criminales (We’re not bad people, we’re not criminals),” Rosa says.

Come Monday – the day after Mother’s day – Jolt is holding a press conference in front of the Governor’s Mansion.

They’re bringing 100 Latinos together to announce a 100-day organizing effort to register Latino voters and hold protests against SB 4.

SB 4 would penalize jurisdictions that don’t fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities. It is set to take effect on September 1.

Governor Greg Abbott has said the legislation will help keep Texans safe.

Becky Fogel/Texas Standard

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has dropped a lawsuit against the city of Brownsville over a measure that charged a $1 fee for plastic bags at grocery stores.

Paxton dropped the case after the city agreed – as part of a settlement – to repeal the ordinance.

Becky Fogel/Texas Standard