EAGLE PASS CITY COUNCIL DELIVERS SURPRISE BLOW TO GOV. ABBOTT’S OPERATION LONE STAR WITH UNANIMOUS VOTE TO RETURN SHELBY PARK TO THE PEOPLE
DOZENS SPEAK AT CITY COUNCIL, PARTICIPATE IN KAYAK RIVER ACTION AND PRESS CONFERENCE TARGETING ABBOTT FOR STEAMROLLING OVER THEIR CITY AND LOCAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
Members of the Eagle Pass Border Coalition demand equal treatment from the State of Texas; and an end to fear-mongering and militarization of their riverfront lands that has created an ecological, economic and humanitarian crisis in their border city
EAGLE PASS, TX – Operation Lone Star just got its first crack in the armor, exposing a fundamental weakness in the multi-billion dollar and controversial pet political project of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
On Tuesday night, after listening to dozens of people denounce Abbott’s disregard of border community voices, the Eagle Pass City Council voted unanimously to take back control of Shelby Park and begin negotiations with the Texas Department of Public Safety, a significant victory for the growing Eagle Pass Border Coalition that is comprised of business owners, private landowners, attorneys and community activists.
“It was all DPS,” Mayor Rolando Salinas Jr. said before the Council vote, explaining that he felt coerced to sign the affidavit and wasn’t consulted by Abbott’s Operation Lone Star officials about extreme measures that have shut down the city’s largest downtown park and caused injuries and deaths of migrants seeking asylum.
“What we accomplished in Eagle Pass on Tuesday is monumental,” said Coalition co-founder and filmmaker Robie Flores. “We used our voices to oppose a single man’s abuse of power in our majority Mexican-American town. Yesterday was our reminder to Greg Abbott that although we’re on the border, we are Americans who follow the same laws and pay the same taxes and have the same rights as every other American in this country and we will not accept being treated as second class citizens, and much less props in his fear mongering stunts.”
Flores and other Coalition members acknowledged that Tuesday’s vote is only the first in a series of battles that will determine who has control over Eagle Pass, but that the decision by the Eagle Pass City Council has revealed a fissure in the dam that will only grow bigger and bring down these cruel and oppressive political stunts.
“This victory is important and will be the first of many,” said Karyme Flores (no relation to Robie), a college sophomore who heads the Maverick County Young Democrats, and spoke at the council meeting. “The young citizens of Eagle Pass need to keep speaking up. We are the future of Eagle Pass so our voices matter.”
Tuesday began with a trip on the river filled with numerous national and state media outlets, and elected state officials, led by Jessie F. Fuentes, Eagle Pass native and owner of Epi Canoe & Kayak who has sued Abbott for economic damage to his business with the buoy installation. Nearly 30 kayaks and canoes entered the river at Shelby Park to view miles of extensive destruction along the riverbank and pristine river islands due to bulldozers, shipping containers and concertina wire – all in stark contrast to the joggers, carefully landscaped vegetation, and art-filled park across the river in the sister city of Piedras Negras.
Further downstream, reporters and Texas Rep. Vikki Goodwin who sits on the state’s Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee witnessed the newly installed Abbott buoys before disembarking at Heavenly Farms, a working pecan orchard that has suffered severe economic and property damage from Operation Lone Star soldiers against the will of the Urbina Family.
“The Rio Grande flotilla uncovered even more devastating damage to the Rio Grande ecosystem,” Fuentes said afterward. “Our river is flowing in a stressed manner that demands we address this injustice immediately.”
Magali Urbina, the pecan farm owner, agreed, “We never expected this,” she said of the state’s takeover of her family’s private land.
Amerika Garcia Grewal, Coalition member, weighed in further saying that she’s glad “that the Rule of Law hasprevailed and the affidavit has been rescinded. This is a small but significant step towards ‘border security without cruelty.’ We will hold the Governor accountable and not rest until we see the full extent of his abuse of power exposed and come to an end.”
ACLU Attorney David Donatti, who joined the river flotilla, press conference and city council meeting, weighed in further: “The City Council’s decision is an important victory for the rule of law. Eagle Pass residents stood up for their park and the river and the promise of the Constitution. It’s time for the rest of the state to stand up against Gov. Abbott’s indefinite and ever-expanding abuse of power.”
The quickly developing crisis in Eagle Pass has generated a storm of news coverage, DPS whistleblowers, and lawsuits filed by Eagle Pass business owners and the U.S. Department of Justice for Abbott’s installation of buoys in violation of the federal Rivers and Harbors Act.
The Eagle Pass Border Coalition is a group of community organizers working to empower our community to lift our voice, protect our culture and become ambassadors of our fronterizo identity. We’re fighting to be the ones that tell our own story.
IG – @epbordercoalition | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos courtesy: No Border Wall Laredo Coalition