Image courtesy of Concrete Contractors Interstate
Rendering of Concrete Contractors Interstate’s “icon wall solution” proposal
This past Sunday, more than 100 people gathered at Chicano Park for the unveiling and blessing of its latest mural. The fresh paint, provided by local nonprofit group Border Angels, certainly makes the new mural standout amongst the older ones, but it’s artist Sal Barajas’ imagery that makes the eyes widen. Crying bodies are contrasted among ICE badges and fistfuls of American dollars. The messaging among the interspersed crosses is clear enough: No more deaths! Love has no borders!
A few days earlier and just down the street, members of Raices sin Fronteras gathered at the offices of R.E. Staite Engineering. The local construction company is one of a number of local firms who recently submitted a design proposal for Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico. A video posted on Facebook pretty much said it all.
“You think we’re gonna leave you alone?” a protester shouted at the R.E. Staite offices through a megaphone. “You are wrong and whether or not you win to build the wall, we will not let the community of Barrio Logan or anyone in San Diego County forget what decision you made.”
Stories like these have been popping up all over the County lately and it’s only going to get worse. Of the 450 companies who submitted proposals to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the 2,000-mile wall, 20 will be selected and come to San Diego in June to build a 30-feet by 30-feet prototype in Otay Mesa.
Um, yeah, what could possibly go wrong with that idea?
Some of the proposals are truly farcical, such as Clayton Industries’ five-part obstacle course that includes a trench of nuclear waste and an electric fence. I wish I were kidding. There’s also Mexico-based Otra Nation, who proposed not building a wall at all, but instead building a 2,000-mile, trillion-dollar hyper loop train system that looks like something out of The Fifth Element. I hope that wins, but I’m not exactly holding my breath.
And then there’s Poway-based Concrete Contractors Interstate (CCI). Their wall proposal includes a polished concrete wall that will include art made of stones and artifacts that are native to the region in which the wall is located. The company calls it an “icon wall solution” and the rendering appears to be some kind of mosaic-style art that, quite frankly, doesn’t look particularly compelling.
However, is there something to be said for coming to the proverbial White House dinner table with something more than just a big, hulky wall? CCI CEO Russ Baumgartner is on record as saying he wants the wall to be aesthetically pleasing on both sides of the border. That he wants it to be “a piece of art.”
“They are open to working with artists on both sides of the border,” says Daniel Springer, who handles marketing and public relations for CCI. “Working with artists and communities to ensure that whatever goes up, that it represents the different cultures and communities who will be doing the wall.”
What’s more, Springer says that one of the first things Baumgartner did was make sure that his entire company was on board with such a proposal. Springer says the feedback from CCI’s employees was “overwhelmingly positive.” Springer says that so far the company has not had any protests or received any threats. When asked if the company was worried at all about this in the future or if they win the contract to build the wall, he simply says the company has done what they’ve wanted to do and they’ll see what happens.
“[CCI] would never consider building something, to use an analogy, they would never consider building a fence in their backyard without checking with their neighbor first to make sure they were comfortable with it. It’s important to give consideration to both sides of the wall and not just the northern side.”
The problem with that analogy is that the neighbor in this scenario has already said they don’t want that, eh, fence in their backyard. Nor are they going to help pay for it. This is an issue where metaphors don’t even begin to convey how much damage this wall will do not only to the environment, but to the economy and to our relations with Mexico. What’s more, people are going to die. Every expert agrees: build that wall and someone will figure out a way to bypass it while putting themselves and others in danger.
The rallying cry of “people over profits” seems to be the pervading theme when it comes to protesting the wall. CityBeat readers should and must resist the idea of this wall in whatever way they can. Whether it’s a piece of art or a nuclear waste-filled trench, this particular “fence” is a waste of money, resources and time.