Her feet dangled 20 feet above the ground. She mixed blue and white paint to get the right color for the story unfolding in front of her.
“It’s an indescribable feeling, to have your work be associated with a historical park,” said artist Cindy Rocha. “Since I’ve started with the project, there’ve been a lot of tears involved.”
Rocha is one of the artists working on a massive mural on some of the pillars propping up the Coronado Bay Bridge in Chicano Park. It tells the story of Anastasio Rojas. Alliance San Diego, which represents the Rojas family, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents beat, tortured and smothered Rojas. They said he was tasered a dozen times. Rojas died three days later. No one was prosecuted at the end of a federal investigation. Alliance San Diego said the Rojas family is still seeking answers and justice a decade later.
“They’re left with such a deep sense of injustice that it’s heartbreaking,” Rocha said.
The Rojas story is the latest addition to a collection of murals in Chicano Park that were inspired by hope or tragedy. Rocha said the new mural is both.
“The mural is divided into a healing part and a more intense part,” Rocha said.
One pillar depicts people facing fire along the border, a man’s hands zip-tied together, and a plea for help. Red is the primary color. Rocha said the other pillar evokes peace and healing with shades of blue and green.
“Empathy for humans,” she said. “Empathy for the spirit of being a human.”
A large image of Anastasio Rojas sits in the middle wear the pillars come together.
“At the end of the day, you have to kind of take away that there’s still hope for the future,” said Rocha.
The mural was privately funded, but organizers are still raising money to finish the project. Rocha said the team of artists hope to complete the project in time for a dedication in mid-September.