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Volunteers Repairing Arson Damage at South San Antonio Migrant Memorial

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Click play to hear from volunteers cleaning up after a fire at the South San Antonio migrant memorial.

Six crosses set on fire at roadside site memorializing the death of dozens in South San Antonio.

Greg Harman

Angelita Olvero organizes with the Keep South San Proud Neighborhood Association. Currently the group is collecting toys for area kids and decorating trees at the South San Walking Trail. This more typical volunteer work shifted over the summer in the days after more than 50 migrants were discovered trapped in a semi-trailer on a rural South San Antonio roadway. Dozens were dead. Many more would die after they were hospitalized. Olvero, along with other volunteers like Sandra Grace Martinez, helped lead an effort to erect and maintain an elaborate memorial to the departed.

Deceleration first visited the site with a busload of climate justice organizers from around the US and territories as part of the Climate Justice Alliance Our Power Communities Summit held in San Antonio. Earlier this week, a woman was arrested and charged with arson for damaging six of the 54 crosses. 44-year-old Estela Banda said she was inspired by God to set the site ablaze, according to the San Antonio Express News.

Olvera said six of the 54 crosses were burned and knocked down and that many flags were burned.

“There are souls around here that are still needing our prayers,” said Olvera.

Councilmember Adriana Rocha Garcia (D4) followed up with Deceleration on Monday by email, writing:

“We are working on this. The entire road needs to be fixed before a permanent memorial is placed, so as you can imagine, city funding will be needed, beyond a fundraising effort for the memorial itself. We also wanted to respect the community-driven memorial and not take it down too soon. The community has spent their own time, talent and treasure on putting up the beautiful crosses and we wanted to be sensitive to their way of grieving. Many families of the deceased are still making their way to pay their respects.”

— Councilmember Adriana Rocha Garcia (D4)


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