Brownsville environmental activist’s charge reduced for alleged SpaceX graffiti

Bekah Hinojosa addresses the crowd of supporters Tuesday, April 4, 2023, during a rally and march to urge Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz and the city of Brownsville to drop the class B misdemeanor charge against Hinojosa outside the Cameron County Administration Building in Brownsville. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)
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A Brownsville environmental activist accused of writing graffiti on a downtown Brownsville mural had their charge reduced Tuesday, according to a news release. 

Rebekah Lynn Hinojosa had her class B misdemeanor charge reduced to a class C misdemeanor, which if convicted, would result in a maximum fine of $500 and no additional jail time. 

“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,” Hinojosa said in the release.

Following her arrest, community members held RGV Free Bekah rallies in response to SpaceX’s Elon Musk, former Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez and the Brownsville Police Department, after they accused them of their involvement in what they called the unlawful arrest of Hinojosa.

Supporters have also delivered more than 2,000 petitions to the city and the district attorney’s office to ask for Hinojosa’s charges to be dropped, the release stated. 

On Feb. 14, 2022, graffiti was discovered on the pink colored BTX mural on East 11th and East Levee Street. In addition to Brownsville police confirming at the time they had gathered surveillance video from downtown cameras, Mendez also took to his Facebook to post about Hinojosa’s arrest, which included a mention of her employment with the Sierra Club and that she’d “been quoted in several anti SpaceX articles.” 

Since then, Mendez has edited the post to remove that information, but the Free RGV Bekah group archived the post’s edit history

During a Free RGV Bekah rally earlier this February, they called on Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz to dismiss the misdemeanor charge against Hinojosa and that Mendez be investigated for abuse of power.

“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 continued in the release. 

This file photo shows graffiti on the pink colored BTX mural on East 11th and East Levee Street in Brownsville. (Courtesy photo)

The release also provides details of Hinojosa’s “violent” arrest last year.

“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,” the release stated. 

Tuesday’s release also notes that Mendez went as far as not only publishing Hinojosa’s employer’s name, but also including her mugshot in his post.

The release continues to note that Mendez has never shared the mugshots of any other residents during his four-year term as mayor.

“I am very proud of Bekah, her supporters, and the outcome in court today,” Sara Stapleton-Barrera, Hinojosa’s attorney, said in the release. “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.”

Now that the charge was reduced, Hinojosa and Stapleton-Barrera seek to fight the class C misdemeanor by pursuing a trial by jury in municipal court.