At a Glance
Freedom of Information Act request and Texas records requests were filed August 8, 2022.
- Ian Head
Rebekah Hinojosa, Another Gulf Is Possible
In August 2022, local activists submitted multiple requests for information on possible collusion between government officials and Elon Musk’s tech giant SpaceX in the company’s expansion in South Texas and the arrest of a local environmental activist. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are part of community groups’ ongoing opposition to the environmental harm and gentrification caused by the company’s expansion in Cameron County, one of the state’s poorest.
Since it began operating in 2019, SpaceX has triggered numerous fires and explosions that have scattered pieces of metal so large they must be removed by machines. The earth-shaking noise, industrial fires, and boulder-sized debris threaten the area’s ecosystem, which includes endangered birds like the piping plover, and Kemp's ridley sea turtles, the smallest sea turtles in the world. SpaceX sits on a sprawling compound located on land sacred to the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe, and Musk, who fancies himself the founder of a city by the South Texas launch site he calls Starbase, has plans to expand further. In June 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completed its environmental review of SpaceX’s proposed missions. Although the federal agency mandated 75 steps to mitigate harm, the FAA’s finding of “No Significant Impact” clears the way for continued takeoffs of the world’s tallest rocket and the potential for continued, cumulative harm.
On February 16, police swarmed into Rebekah Hinojosa’s home in Brownsville and arrested her for allegedly posting graffiti below a Musk-funded mural – a misdemeanor charge that would ordinarily result in a citation at most. An organizer for Another Gulf Is Possible, Hinojosa is an opponent of Space X’s rocket launch site on Boca Chica Beach, which, she says, is causing environmental destruction and displacement of people of color. After the police released Hinojosa a day later, the Brownsville mayor posted her mugshot and workplace on social media.