No running water, no electricity, no sewage system, small shacks as homes and dirt roads all seem to describe a third world country town, but this actually describes colonias in the border towns of Texas.
People have lived like this for decades. And although some legislation and money has been pumped into colonias, there are still places like La Presa and Santa Teresita that have not seen any change.
Such is the case of Victorio Ramirez, who’s now 75, and has lived in La Presa since 1980. At the time, he bought three acres of land for $12,000 for his family and built his homes…that look more like shacks. His family travels to get clean water from the dam. When it rains, the roads flood and no one can leave or enter the colonias, not even school buses.
What’s worse is that some of these colonias are breeding Hepatitis A because of the lack of a drainage system. A study from 1998 (no recent study is available) said that children of the colonias have a 37 percent risk of contracting Hepatitis A.
Even with all the hardship, some refuse to leave the colonias and those who have want to return.
“Even if I had more money I’d stay here,” Rosio, Ramirez’ 27-year-old daughter said. “We got tired of the city life…here we get to live in the open air.”
Read more about the struggling border towns in Texas here.
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The El Paso community is still recovering from the violent and senseless shooting at a local Wal-Mart. The shooter confessed that he was only there to kill Mexicans. One victim, Margie Reckard, has left an indelible impression on the community as her husband, a survivor, Antonio Basco mourns the loss of his only family member. The El Paso community has shown their strength and love by the way they have honored Reckard and Basco during the darkest moment in his life.
Recently, Antonio Basco’s car was stolen just hours after his wife’s funeral adding insult to injury.
Basco had been living in his car after the shooting to be close to the memorial, which included a cross for his wife. Just hours after he buried the last living family member he had, his car was stolen and wrecked. The horrific incident not only affected El Paso community members, but it also angered them.
People immediately flooded the post of his stolen car asking how they could help fix Basco’s situation.
Basco invited anyone who wanted to attend his wife’s funeral. Thousands of people showed up to mourn the death of Margie Reckard and support a man who lost everything on Aug. 3. The car being stolen after was another blow for a man already mourning.
El Paso had rallied around Basco, even repairing and cleaning his car before it was stolen.
Casa Ford Lincoln learned about Basco and his situation and gave his car a full-service treatment for free. The car was cleaned and repaired so that it could be the best it could be.
Casa Ford Lincoln decided to do one better after hearing that Basco’s car was stolen and wrecked by giving him a brand new Ford Escape.
Casa Ford Lincoln hosted a ceremony just for Basco for him to receive his new car following the news that his was stolen and crashed. The crowd that gathered offered Basco love and support during and after the ceremony as some passed him notes and patted the man on the shoulder.
Ronnie Lowenfield, the general manager of Casa Lincoln Ford, spoke to the crowd and Basco offering words of condolences and love.
“Tony, we just wanted to bring you here and, first off, offer our condolences,” Lowenfield said. “We can’t imagine the hell that you’ve been through in these last couple of weeks. We just want you to know that we love you and this is on behalf of all of us here at Casa and essentially all of us here in El Paso.”
The car is more than a car but a sign of El Paso’s love and support for its community members.
“This is what we do here in this city, is care for each other and we’re very sorry for your loss,” Lowenfield continued. “We know that you’re a Ford guy and we know that you had a blue Escape. … Fortunately, we had one here so we are going to turn over the keys to you.”
People on Facebook flooded the comment section of the post with love and appreciation for the gesture from Casa Ford Lincoln.
Casa Ford Lincoln customers celebrated the company and gushed about how thankful they are to do business with a company that follows their moral compass.
The El Paso community came out in support of Basco for his wife’s funeral and there are several videos and pictures that the love he received.
He claimed to not have a family but the city of El Paso proved to be the family he didn’t know he had. The outpouring of emotion and love from the El Paso community at large was a special moment in the city’s darkest hours.
El Paso is a strong community and the way they took care of Basco shows just how connected the community is.
“Amy just sent me this photo from El Paso. This is outside the funeral for Margie Reckard. She was killed at Walmart in El Paso on August 3rd. I met her husband Antonio at the memorial a few nights after that,” Beto O’Rourke wrote in an Instagram post. “The whole crowd at the memorial hugged him and comforted him, everyone giving him love and strength. Earlier this week the funeral home published a notice for Margie’s funeral that said that they didn’t expect anyone to come to the funeral because neither she nor Antonio had family in El Paso and that therefore the community was invited. Amy texted this with the photo from her funeral tonight: ‘Line wraps around the building multiple times. Been waiting 40 minutes and a long way to go. So beautiful.'”
Watch the video of Basco getting his new car below.
Officers P. Brosch and A. Smith arrested Donald Neely, a 43-year-old Black man, for alleged trespassing in Galveston, Texas. The officers then handcuffed Neely, tied a blue rope to his handcuffs, and used the rope as a leash as they forced him to be dog walked in his own neighborhood to the staging area for the Mounted Patrol Unit. Witnesses took photos of the incident and released them to the public, prompting an outcry over the dehumanization of the man.
The two officers involved in the incident will not face a criminal investigation, according to Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset.
“My officers did not have any malicious intent at the time of the arrest, but we have immediately changed the policy to prevent the use of this technique and will review all mounted training and procedures for more appropriate methods,” Police Chief Vernon Hale said in a statement.
According to CNN, the officers were following policy when it came to arresting by horseback officers. While a criminal investigation is not happening, there is an investigation being conducted on the county level. The investigation, however, is not into the incident, but rather an investigation in the police forces’ policies.
The visceral effect of the image is rooted in the use of this “technique” to capture and enslave Black people in the antebellum south.
In a Facebook post, Texas’ Galveston Police Department included this statement:
“Although this is a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios, I believe our officers showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of the arrest. My officers did not have any malicious intent at the time of the arrest, but we have immediately changed the policy to prevent the use of this technique and will review all mounted training and procedures for more appropriate methods.”
Neely’s family attorney, Melissa Morris, says that Neely is mentally ill and homeless.
Morris told KPRC that Neely lived a normal life as the father of eight children until he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder ten years ago. His family had been looking for him for the last three or four years. When Neely’s sister saw his image go viral, she immediately drove to Galveston to find him.
The Galveston Police Chief Vernon L. Hale III has since released a statement, saying “First and foremost I must apologize to Mister Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment.” Hale has confirmed that this is a commonplace technique that “is considered a best practice in certain scenarios, such as during crowd control, the practice was not the correct use for this instance.” The police department has discontinued the use of the “technique.”
“The family is offended. The family is upset,” Morris told KPRC.
“I believe the way they handled him was disgusting,” Morris told the Texas station. “No puedo con esta mierda. Me mudo. Me vomito,” comments one Twitter user.
The police officers have received no consequences for their “poor judgment” at the time of this publication.
In 2014, Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill Black man, was shot 14 times by police, though he was unarmed. Some people are calling on the police department to “fire them!” Another Twitter user feels the apology is “Not enough. Officers Brosch and Smith should be ID’d in full and then fired. If the #Galveston Police department treat a Black man like this for a misdemeanor, who knows what savage acts they would commit for a felony.”
Meanwhile, people are showing the treatment of the El Paso shooter who killed 22 people in comparison to a Black man arrested for trespassing.
President of the Galveston Coalition for Justice, Leon Phillips, told the Houston Chronicle, “All I know is that these are two white police officers on horseback with a Black man walking him down the street with a rope tied to the handcuffs, and that’s doesn’t make sense, period. And I do understand this —if it was a white man, I guarantee it wouldn’t have happened.”
For some, the photo is further proof of the injustices Black men and women face when dealing with law enforcement.
“Tell me again how racism is dead and that we Black folk just overreact to everything? Don’t worry I’ll wait,” tweets @luvwinsresist. Unfortunately, she didn’t have to wait long.
Nearly half the social media outrage to the photo comes from folks who claim the law is color blind.
They seem to be angry that anyone could suggest that race played a role in the way Neely was treated. Photos of other non-Black suspects under arrest by cops on horseback are being circulated. None of the photos we scoured found the use of a rope to function as a leash.
People of color are expending their energy on explaining racism to white folks all over the Internet this week.
After one Twitter user asked if anyone would care if they were Black cops dragging a Black man, Monica Charley chimed in to say, “Yes. I would care. I would care very much. The difference here is that the incident harkens to an earlier era during slavery when this actual act was commonplace for captured slaves. That is the reason for the extreme upset. I hope this clarifies things for you.”
The user responded using “they” language, and once again erasing the anger of Black folks as oversensitive.
Take care of yourselves out there, mi gente.
This week has been pesado in ways we couldn’t even imagine. Take care not to give away precious joules of energy to people who aren’t worthy. Our community has your back.