District Attorney, facing community pressure, reduces charge against Brownsville Environmental Activist

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BROWNSVILLE, TX – Today, Rio Grande Valley residents gathered inside the Cameron County Courthouse-Judicial Building to support Brownsville environmental activist Bekah Hinojosa. They urged the court to drop the politically-motivated Class B Misdemeanor charge against Hinojosa for allegedly spraying anti-SpaceX graffiti. Inside courtroom 5, Ms. Hinojosa and her attorney, Sara Stapleton-Barrera, appeared before the Judge and received notice that the charge had been reduced to a Class C Misdemeanor and, if convicted, would result in a maximum fine of $500 and no additional jail time. Ms. Hinojosa and her attorney will now fight the Class C misdemeanor by pursuing a trial by jury in municipal court. 

 

“For nearly two years, community members and I have been demanding the charge against me be dropped because I am being targeted by the City of Brownsville and the District Attorney for being outspoken against SpaceX. These charges should be dropped because my arrest was politically motivated and violates my civil rights,” said Bekah Hinojosa. “We won’t allow politicians to attack community members, like me, with a violent police force that subjects them to cruel and unusual punishment and dox them for opposing a corporation that is causing environmental destruction in our community.”  

 

Hinojosa and supporters have been outraged that she has been the subject of unjust actions by Brownsville police and now former Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez due to her vocal opposition and activism against Elon Musk’s SpaceX project. Last February, Hinojosa was violently arrested by Brownsville police who broke into her home, took away her prescription glasses, and imprisoned her for 26 hours, all on the basis of a single alleged charge of graffiti that read “gentrified / stop spacex” below the controversial “BTX” mural paid for by the Musk Foundation in downtown Brownsville. Shortly after Ms. Hinojosa’s release, Brownsville’s Mayor Trey Mendez took the extraordinary step of publishing Hinojosa’s mugshot on his official Facebook page, a move community members have described as doxxing. Mayor Mendez’s post also published the name of Hinojosa’s employer in a malicious attempt to harm her ability to earn a living. Notably, Mendez has never shared the mugshots of any other residents during his four-year term as mayor, but he has shared photos of himself with Musk. 

 

I am very proud of Bekah, her supporters, and the outcome in court today. Whenever one person stands up and says, ‘Wait a minute, this is wrong,’ it helps other people to do the same. I believe Bekah has set the wheels in motion for a more just system,” Sara Stapleton-Barrera, Hinojosa’s attorney, added. 

 

For years, residents and the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas have been vocal about the environmental and financial harms that SpaceX has inflicted on Brownsville and surrounding communities. SpaceX operations have burned down acres of the wildlife refuge, dumped rocket debris on the community, and taken away beach access from families and fishermen. Supporters have delivered over 2,000 petitions to the City of Brownsville and the District Attorney to ask Hinojosa’s charges be dropped.  

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