FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — The front entrance of the Teocalli Academy in downtown Fresno has a new look as of Sunday. Director and founder Julio Bustos Penaloza says he coordinated with Los Angeles artist Lalo Garcia to bring his traveling mural down to Fulton Street, in an effort to bring awareness to family separation at the border.
“These kids don’t have a voice. So, the artist and I wanted to be able to give these children a voice,” Penaloza said.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, border agents picked up nearly 19,000 children traveling alone across the Mexican border in March, the highest number since the year 2000. The mural portrays the emotions of many of those children detained at the border away from their families.
“We get really emotional looking at this artwork. It brings tears to our eyes,” said Teocalli Academy member Prisceida Ruiz.
The installation was preceded by special performances from academy dancers of all ages. Penaloza says he hopes the mural educates the children at his academy and reminds them how fortunate they are.
“Some of them are too young to realize how lucky they are that they don’t have to go through the plights of other children. It’s about making sure they are also involved in the community when they grow up,” he said.
Penaloza says he believes the mural will be displayed downtown for the next 60 days, and then it might travel to a new location in the Bay Area.