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Juan Esparza Rebecca Plevin Daniel Cásarez Olivia Ruiz Irene Rodriguez Cynthia Moreno Community Health Fellowship

Tower District mural sparks controversyavatar

with 2 comments

When I moved to Fresno almost a year ago (gasp!), I was excited to see that segments of the city’s Tower District and downtown are decorated with colorful murals. To me, murals and graffiti are a reflection of the community, and a form of free public expression.

So, I was interested when my friend told me she would be participating in a mural project at the Neighborhood Thrift Store, located at 353 E. Olive Ave. in the Tower District. I became even more intrigued when she later told me that the mural was generating controversy in the neighborhood.


As you can see in the photos, the mural features a woman who represents the San Joaquín River, according to a message I received via Facebook. The work, which was created by seven local artists, also features a baby, a mermaid, and a police officer, among other characters.

(My friend told me she painted the police officer, and that he was originally supposed to be pointing a taser gun at the mermaid. That image angered people, so she converted the gun into a banana.)mural-003

What are your thoughts on this mural? What are your thoughts on the fight over keeping it, or removing it, from the side of the thrift shop? If you are interested in learning more about the issue, there will be a community meeting tonight from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Neighborhood Thrift shop.

Written by Rebecca Plevin

October 21st, 2009 at 11:31 am

2 Responses to 'Tower District mural sparks controversy'

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  1. Thanks for coming by! Your support is much, much, much appreciated.



    21 Oct 09 at 9:41 pm

  2. Hello Rebecca. My name is Sarah and I’m with Justice for Hispanic Farmers. I saw this blog entry you wrote about the Tower District Mural, and thought of my own cause which has faced government controversy, which is achieving justice for Hispanic farmers. We’re working to end discrimination by the USDA in its home loan program, to and help people like Lupe Garcia get justice. His story is below. Would you consider posting a link to our petition ( on your blog? Information on the discrimination law suit, Garcia v. Vilsack, can be found at
    We’re doing everything we can to generate enough signatures to get President Obama’s attention. He was left a lot of messes by the previous administration but this is one injustice he could easily rectify. Congress has already directed the Justice Department to settle the matter in the 2008 Farm Bill but Justice Department lawyers refuse. If we can get the President to weigh in we can close the books on a sad chapter of American history that began in the 80’s when President Reagan dismantled the Civil Rights division within the USDA—an agency known as the “Last Plantation”. Thanks for your consideration.
    Lupe Garcia is a third generation Hispanic farmer. Since 2000 he has been fighting to bring accountability and transparency to the USDA-administered farm credit programs as the named plaintiff in the Garcia v. Vilsack law suit.

    Garcia & Sons– Lupe, his father and brother– owned two farms in Dona Ana County, New Mexico where they grew onions, lettuce, wheat and corn. The family operation repeatedly applied for the operating loans farmers depend on to stay in business; loans the Farm Service Agency was set up to make. Despite positive cash flow, profitability and sufficient collateral, Garcia and Sons was unable to obtain the loans that were supposed to be available to them under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. This systematic deprivation of operating capital continued until they were foreclosed upon in 1999. The foreclosure was the result of the USDA’s refusal to grant the Garcias the same loans, disaster relief and advice they were providing to other, less qualified farmers.

    The Garcia family’s story is one of thousands of cases of admitted discrimination by the USDA against minority farmers and ranchers. African American, Native American and women farmers were similarly discriminated against. In the case of African American farmers justice is being served. That group is being compensated with $2.25 billion. Justice for the others has been deferred. In the words of former Congressman Kika de la Garza “It is simply untenable logically, legally, morally or politically that four minority groups can suffer the identical discrimination from the same federal agency and yet only one of the four groups be compensated on a class-wide basis.”

    The issue is simply whether the decades of admitted discrimination by our government against these farmers should be rectified by granting a fair settlement of their discrimination claims. We believe there is no place for discrimination within a tax payer funded federal program and that a settlement like the one already granted to African American farmers is long overdue.

    Since the beginning of Lupe Garcia’s fight over nine years ago, untold numbers of farmers and ranchers have gone out of business- lost their farms, been foreclosed upon, or just quit. Some have faced retaliation. Many, like Lupe’s father, have literally died waiting for relief. Help us win justice for Hispanic farmers and ranchers. Sign our petition now!


    Sarah Smith

    23 Oct 09 at 8:24 am

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