By Mario A. Cortez
After months of inactivity caused by precautions to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, a group of artists working on a mural to honor an immigrant killed at the border has returned to Chicano Park to complete its piece.
Chicano master-muralist Victor Ochoa leads work on the mural. His team is composed of other local artists and student volunteers.
In a recent social media post, Ochoa shared an image of himself sketching an outline on the bridge pillar which will bear the large-scale painting with a caption reading “Anastasio mural has restarted after over 70 days of quarantine”.
Preparations for the piece honoring the memory of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas began this year in early March but work was put on hold a few weeks later due to State mandates in response to the spread of Covid-19.
The piece will bear a portrait of Hernandez Rojas embracing his family, along with many allegorical images taken from Indigenous and Mexican lore.
A native of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Hernandez Rojas was a day laborer who worked at construction sites throughout San Diego county. On May 28, 2010, he was tased and beaten by a group of 20 officers as he laid handcuffed on the ground. The incident left him brain dead at the scene and ultimately died a few days later in a Chula Vista hospital.
As reported by La Prensa San Diego in 2017, the estate of Hernandez Rojas won a settlement for $1 million after years of litigation and probes into the case by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The likenesses of nine-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin, the first child death of the ongoing ICE refugee detention crisis, and Claudia Patricia Gomez Martinez, a trans woman escaping harassment in her home country who was shot in the head by a CBP agent in Texas, will also appear on the mural.
This latest piece was planned to be completed in time for the 50th Anniversary celebration of Chicano Park Day this past April, which was also canceled due to restrictions placed on public gatherings caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.