This time of quarantine and worry has given people more time to ponder. There is less motivation these days to respond to day-to-day enticements. This pandemic has clipped our wings and left many feeling isolated, stagnant and even depressed.

For visual artist Lalo Garcia, a resident of Mission Hills, he considered what was really needed during this time and what he could offer. 

At the forefront of his mind were those who have it much worse.  He’s been very troubled by the hundreds of children currently locked up in for-profit detention centers who have no power over their lives and have been subjected to psychological and emotional trauma.

The reports of incidents of sexual abuse are especially heinous, and children possibly being trafficked or placed with outside families without the permission of their own parents or the records to now locate them.

“This is a nightmare,” said Garcia. “This has gone on far too long.  I believe we can and should all be doing what we can for these children and, as an artist, I want to express my concern publicly by painting a mural that can be seen by people and encourage action.” 

Working with the City of San Fernando, Garcia has been directed to a location for his mural at First and Maclay streets that directly faces the Metrolink tracks. Garcia has offered to create and install the mural at no cost to the city. He likes this location, which will be in plain sight for commuters.  

“People may agree that it’s a terrible situation, but then go back to their everyday lives. It’s easy, they don’t see it, they know it’s happening, but in their minds it’s somewhere else, I hope my mural puts it right smack directly in their view and moves them enough to consider what they can do,” he said.

In the process, Garcia has possibly ignited a new movement of “protest art.”  

He contacted fellow artist Sonya Fe, who currently lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and discussed his idea to paint the mural with a goal to encourage other artists in their respective cities across the United States to find a wall in their community and paint a mural about this “injustice to innocent children.” 

Fe immediately got to work. She found a wall and has already completed her mural that also faces train tracks. 

“This effort is to raise public awareness — we can’t forget these kids in these detention centers, they’ve become orphans,” Garcia said.  “These children don’t have a voice and hopefully this mural, and hopefully other murals, will follow.

Through the power of art, it’s Garcia’s goal to convey that imprisoning children in locked cages is dehumanizing and an injustice everyone should care about.

He hopes his mural will bring this issue home, encourage more people to speak out, and “finally move the authorities to take action to free the children and reunite them with their families.”  

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