Texas border town to paint ‘defund the wall’ on street in front of federal courthouse
The City Council in the border town of Laredo, Texas, voted this week to paint “defund the wall” on the street in front of a federal courthouse downtown.
Laredo council members approved the initiative in a unanimous vote, according to the Laredo Morning Times, working with the No Border Wall Coalition to install the mural.
The organization has called for federal spending on President Trump’s signature southern border wall to be rerouted and invested in the environment, health care, jobs and education.
“We believe that public art can ignite important conversations about what we value in our society and what we want our future to be,” coalition member and filmmaker Karen Gaytan said in a news release.
“We believe that if we say ‘DEFUND THE WALL,’ the rest of the country will pay attention to what’s going on here and listen to what we, the residents of Laredo, want for our future.”
Kristina Hale, Laredo’s acting city attorney and assistant city manager, warned the city council that it could be considered political advertising if the mural takes a political stance, which goes against the city ethics code and state election code.
Roberto Balli, a councilman and attorney who brought forward the initiative, said the mural was not a political position because the border wall will not be on the ballot in November’s elections.
“We just had this discussion with some folks. They wanted to know if they could wear a Black Lives Matter shirt into a polling site. And the question was under the election code, could they do that? And the answer was yes,” Balli said.
“As long as this is not something that is on the ballot, it’s not a political statement.”
The Trump administration earlier this year diverted $3.8 billion from the Pentagon’s budget for constructing new fencing along the border, including 52 new miles of border fencing in Webb County near Laredo and Rio Bravo.