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Chicano Park Mural Remembers Anastasio Hernandez Rojas

Two-sided, 50-foot artwork also pays tribute to the continued fight against injustice

Photo credit: Alliance San Diego

Model of what the Chicano Park mural in memory of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas will look like. It is scheduled to be completed in August.

Ten years ago San Diego resident Anastasio Hernandez Rojas was brutally beaten and shot with a Taser by border agents at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. He died two days later. Now, a mural at Chicano Park pays tribute to his memory and to the continued battle for justice.

Reported by Beth Accomando , Video by Matt Bowler

As riots rage in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd, Victor Ochoa resumes work on a mural commemorating the death of Hernandez Rojas.

Ochoa and his team of artists, some of them his students or former students, are fully aware that they are painting a mural about a 10-year-old injustice as fresh news breaks over Floyd’s death while in police custody.

"How does it feel?" Ochoa asked. "It feels that there's a need to have this mural dedicated to this issue. We have to have justice and we have to check how these officers are dealing with our people."

Ochoa has been painting murals in Chicano Park for half a century and he brings a lot of history with him as he resumes work on this latest mural.

"Even though I was born in the United States, my parents were undocumented," Ochoa said. "I caught the brunt of Operation Wetback. So to me, the issue of immigration as a Chicano has always been continuous. It has never died down. It's not gone. It's gotten worse and worse. So even when we were conceptualizing this mural, we were getting all these images constantly from the drowning of the father and his daughter in the river in El Paso to the caged children at the border checkpoints."

The mural uses the freeway arches to create a kind of altar for Hernandez Rojas.

"it's a double pillar and it drapes around like an arch, it has this kind of a feeling of a church, actually kind of an altar of a church," Ochoa said. "I like to work with energy into the spiritual dimension of the mural but then I like to use layering. So there is layering and transparency and then we will be doing some airbrushing and then we are using pearlescent acrylics. They glow and they added this other level, almost of a church-like atmosphere."

The mural joins many others in Chicano Park that serve as reminders of struggles past and still ongoing.

"A lot of us, if we get a green card and we feel that we're not being harassed by immigration, we sort of forget the issue, "Ochoa said. "And I would like to say that the mural sort of refreshes our mind that it's still going on out there, even though we have cards or papeles, as they say, there's still the issues going on in the community. So this is something that's going to reawaken that awareness."

Work on the mural was delayed because of COVID-19 but Ochoa and his team are back painting and hope to have the 50-foot, two-sided mural completed in August.

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Photo of Beth Accomando

Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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