Things That Matter

Vandals Destroyed A Hispanic Heritage Month Mural At Duke University And Here’s How Students Fought Back

Hispanic Heritage Month, also referred to as Latinx Heritage Month, is from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 every year. It is meant to give recognition and praise to the accomplishments that Latinos have made in the U.S. The current political climate has been hostile to the Latino community and a recent even at Duke University shows the necessity of proudly owning ones Latinidad.

Latino students at Duke University wanted to show off their Latino pride for Hispanic Heritage Month.

CREDIT: Mi Gente / Facebook

Mi Gente is Duke University’s official Latinx student organization, which celebrates and organizes events around Hispanic Heritage Month. According to Sujeiry Jimenez, a co-president of Mi Gente, one of the events is “Pintando Murales” where students participate in the bridge painting.

“This mural functions as a sense of pride and acknowledgment of the Latinx community at Duke. It is used as a way to highlight the beginning a time when our culture is celebrated nationally,” Jimenez says. “It also serves as a way to publicize Latinx Heritage Month to the Duke community and extend an invitation to our programming for the month.”

The mural was defaced less than 24 hours after it was completed.

CREDIT: Mi Gente / Facebook

Jimenez says that the group was unaware of any negative sentiment toward the mural. The mural painting is something that the organization does every year. According to Jimenez, there has never been a negative reaction in the past.

FBI data shows that hate crimes have risen since President Trump won the 2016 elections. The NAACP has credited the increase in hate crimes to Trump’s own legacy of division and racism. According to reports, Trump’s name has been invoked by people carrying out hate crimes against different communities.

Jimenez isn’t completely surprised by the vandalism, however.

CREDIT: Mi Gente / Facebook

The increase in hate crimes across the nation have been tied to increased negative rhetoric about immigrant and minority communities. The Southern Poverty Law Center directly blames President Trump’s rhetoric about minority groups as the cause of increased hate crimes. Communities facing the surge of hate-related violence share the same sentiment.

“Fears of incidents like this happening were very present in our community as other minority communities at Duke had already been victims of targeted crimes,” Jimenez explains. “I felt devastated but not completely shocked. Incidents like this had happened at Duke not long before this. Before classes even started this year, the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture was also the target of an act of hate speech.”

The students, rather than shying away, repainted the mural as an act of fighting back against the hate.

CREDIT: Ana Trejo / Facebook

Jimenez says it only took a few hours to report the vandalism, send a message to organization members and reconvene to fix the mural.

“As a both a leader and member of the Latinx community it was very powerful to see the response not only from our own community but from the larger Duke community,” Jimenez recalls. “We, as a community decided to write over the spray paint, but not with the intention of covering it up. We wanted to send a message of resilience and show that we could rise about the hate. Then, we recreated our mural to the side of where the original one was.”

They decided to send the vandals a message of their strength while letting the hate show.

CREDIT: Mi Gente / Facebook

Jimenez says the group choice the phrase, “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” because of it’s cultural significance. For many Latinos, the Mexican proverb has been in their homes and at their demonstrations.

“We have to keep fighting. Engage and empower your communities. Show up and stand up for your community. This is all of our fights,” Jimenez says. “This is going to be a long fight, but we must work now so that future generations can continue and build on the work we start today! We must create space in spaces that were not created for us. Póngansen las pilas y échenle ganas, la lucha sigue.”


READ: Felony Hate Crime Charges Have Been Filed Against The Man Who Harassed A Woman For Wearing A Puerto Rico Flag Shirt

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A San Francisco Mural Is Honoring An Undocumented Guatemalan Immigrant Who Was Unarmed And Killed By Police

Things That Matter

A San Francisco Mural Is Honoring An Undocumented Guatemalan Immigrant Who Was Unarmed And Killed By Police

cialuart / Instagram

The people of San Francisco have a lot of heart. Yes, the wealthy thrive there, and the homeless community continues to grow, but somewhere in the middle is an empowering group of fighters for justice. They do not back down but instead make their voices heard loud and clear. It’s a tight-knit alliance that is responsible for forcing change on all fronts of authority. San Franciscans are also incredibly beautiful at honoring fallen residents. 

Almost five years after 20-year-old Amilcar Perez-Lopez was gunned down by police in San Francisco, artists are honoring him with a massive mural in the Mission District.

Credit: crashgrammy / Instagram

The mural was designed and directed in community and collaboration by Carla Elana Wojczuk with, Homies Organizing the Mission to Empower Youth (HOMEY), Justice4Amilcar Coalition, Mission community, Lucía González Ippolito, and assisted by Flavia Elisa Mora; Lead Muralists: Carla Elana Wojczuk, Lucía González Ippolito, Cristian Muńoz, Anna Lisa Escobedo, Adrianna Adams, Flavia Elisa Mora (painting and poetry), Pancho Pescador; lettering: Sonia G Molin. The mural is titled “Alto al Fuego en La Misón” and the most prominent subject on the mural is Perez-Lopez, the undocumented young man from Guatemala.

On Feb. 26, 2015, Perez-Lopez was fatally shot by the SFPD, who were in plainclothes in the Mission District. The officers reported that they “opened fire to protect themselves and others from a man who was acting erratically and was armed with a knife,” the SFGate reports. Witnesses told a different story. They said Perez-Lopez was running for his life, which is why he was shot in the back. 

The Perez-Lopez investigation went on for years, and in the end, the SFPD was never charged, but Police Chief Greg Suhr did resign from his post. However, it wasn’t just because of the pushback from the Perez-Lopez investigation but from multiple fatal shootings of unarmed people at the hands of the police. His parents eventually won a settlement from the SFPD

Aside from the artful depiction of Perez-Lopez, the mural also pays tribute to Black and brown people who have died as a result of police brutality as well as people who have died on the southern border.

Credit: amaya_papaya28 / Instagram

During the year in which he was killed, Perez-Lopez “was one of the 67 Latino people killed,” the Guardian reports. The publication adds that Perez-Lopez was also one of the 58 percent who was killed and unarmed. 

“‘Why didn’t you put in Jessica Williams?’ Or, ‘Why didn’t you put in this person?’ The truth of the matter is that we just didn’t have enough space,” Ippolito told the SFWeekly. “And I wish we could include a lot more.”

Ippolito said she and the rest of the mural team were confronted with the fact they didn’t have enough space to put every person that lost their life because of the SFPD. The mural is already one of the largest murals “to be painted in the Latino Cultural Corridor in a decade,” according to the local publication. 

“That was the hardest part,” Anna Lisa Escobedo, another artist on this project, said to SF Weekly. “From the community, a lot of people were saying, ‘We are missing this person, this person, this person.’ We could do five more murals and focus on people who had the same circumstances, and that is sad.”

This isn’t the first artwork that has honored Perez-Lopez.

Credit: msmichellemeow / Instagram

His painted portrait was seen throughout the streets of San Francisco when residents demanded justice in his death. A couple of months after he was killed, artist YESCKA painted a mural that included Perez-Lopez. The mural was painted on the sidewall of the gallery Red Poppy Art House, which is located just blocks two from where Perez-Lopez was shot and killed. 

The mural by Ippolito is pretty remarkable because of its use of bright colors, and the inclusion of Mexican motifs, both the Guatemalan and San Francisco landscape, and Perez-Lopez in his signature Giants baseball cap. But the mural is also representative of an altar of sorts. Perez-Lopez is pictured inside an altar, and the rest of the people that are honored in the painting are seen on prayer candles. 

The other deceased individuals on the mural include Roxana Hernandez, Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, and Oscar and Valeria Martinez, who died either on the southern border or in ICE custody. 

Credit: cialuart / Instagram

This mural is a perfect addition to the many outstanding paintings that the city of San Francisco has to offer. 

One of my favorite things to do when I am back in the Mission is to go on a walking tour to gaze at the stunning murals that depict the people of San Francisco, but also the history of our community.  

READ: One Of The Major Artists In The Chicano Art Movement Has Died At 75

Latino Man’s Tesla Sentry Mode Alerted The Owner When A Disgruntled Fan Kicked His Car In The Parking Lot

Things That Matter

Latino Man’s Tesla Sentry Mode Alerted The Owner When A Disgruntled Fan Kicked His Car In The Parking Lot

ABC 7 / Jay Rosas / YouTube

Tesla’s Sentry Mode alerted its owner, Jay Rosas, to vandalism during last week’s San Francisco 49ers game against the Seattle Seahawks at Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium, and, now, the public has been alerted to help identify the vandal captured by Tesla’s nine cameras. For Tesla owners, gone are the days of returning to your car only to find it’s been devastated by a hit and run, or keyed by frustrated or angry vandals. In fact, for Jay Rosas, he didn’t even have to wait to watch his team, the San Francisco 49ers, lose to the Seattle Seahawks before returning to his car to see the destruction. Before the first half was even over, his car alerted him to a break-in, and he immediately went to investigate and involve the police. 

In a moment of anger, a fellow 49ers fan kicked in the trunk of his Tesla Model X, causing $4,700 in damage. Thanks to Tesla’s Sentry Mode, it’s all been caught on tape, and the vandal’s face is being blasted on the Internet to help Rosas find the less-than-exemplary citizen, who could now face felony charges.

Meet Suspect Angry 49ers Vandal:

CREDIT: @LIKETESLAKIM / TWITTER

“I ended up missing most of the game because I was outside dealing with the security people, the CHP, the police report, and we ended up losing the game, so it really kind of sucked,” Rosas told a local outlet. “To see another fan do that to our vehicle was really saddening and unfortunate.”

While the night might have been a bust for both the San Francisco 49ers, for Rosas and his trunk, the suspect could face jail time for his burst of anger. Even more, folks can’t seem to figure out why this guy was walking around the parking lot in so much anger. The 49ers were winning at the time.

The video shows Suspect Angry 49ers Vandal aggressively kicking in the car’s trunk and continuing to walk away.

CREDIT: @DANAVILCEA / TWITTER

Rosas has released the car’s footage to the Santa Clara Police Department to help identify the suspect, and lean on public support for any information regarding the identity of our Suspect Angry 49ers Vandal. While Rosas could see the suspect vandalizing his car from several different angles, it wasn’t until he left the stands and made it to his car that he could see the damage. A single kick caused more than $4,700 in damage. While the rest of us have certainly returned to our cars and had to pay for someone’s uncontrolled anger out of pocket, Tesla’s Sentry Mode and the public’s help may aid in identifying the vandal and making him pay for his crimes.

Under California law, if convicted, the vandal would face a minimum of one year in jail but could be sentenced to three years in jail. He would also have to pay a fine of up to $10,000.

Rosas is offering a $1,000 or two 49ers tickets for any information that would lead to an arrest.

CREDIT: @ACCESS_LIBERTY / TWITTER

It’s simply not okay to destroy someone else’s property no matter how angry you are. “It is not typical for there to be intentional damage on vehicles like the one I’ve seen in this case. It’s actually quite rare,” Santa Clara Police Capt. Wahid Kazem, Santa Clara Police Dept, told ABC. “Nonetheless, it is a crime, given the magnitude of damage on this car, and the approximate cost of repair.” Much of Tesla’s body is made up of expensive aluminum, which is lightweight, but far less durable than steel and more expensive to repair.

Tesla’s Sentry Mode was rolled out earlier this year to help guard against break-ins and theft.

CREDIT: @BOOBYRETARD / TWITTER

Tesla’s Sentry Mode is will alert its owners if someone is even leaning on their car. When the cameras detect a more severe threat, Sentry Mode sends an “Alarm” signal to the owner, activates the car alarm, increases the brightness of the center display and plays music at maximum volume to scare the vandal or thief. If the Santa Clara Police Department’s Facebook page is any indicator of what the department wants to alert its residents to, vehicle theft is top priority. Of the nine Facebook posts made in the last week, five were about car theft or car vandalism. When a concerned citizen asked why Santa Clara residents even have to worry about it, the page responded, “Thefts from vehicles are something individuals should be concerned about throughout California, not just in Santa Clara.”

If you recognize Suspect Angry 49ers Vandal, please contact the Santa Clara Police Department.

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