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Texas Moms Champion Beto With a Giant Roadside Reminder of the Uvalde Shooting

Starting this week, Texans driving westbound on U.S. 90 from San Antonio toward Uvalde will be reminded of the tragic May shooting at Robb Elementary that ended in the murders of nineteen children and two teachers. On that road, Mothers Against Greg Abbott, a women-led political action committee, has erected an anti-Abbott billboard encouraging voters to “Stop School Gun Violence” and “Vote Beto!” Featuring Greg Abbott’s now-infamous statement after the shooting—“It could have been worse”—alongside the image of a student entering Robb Elementary, the sign is one of several similar billboards across the state that have been installed by the PAC since August. The group is planning to raise one more identical billboard along U.S. 90 in the coming weeks, according to MAGA founder Nancy Thompson.

Mothers Against Greg Abbott first revealed its plan for the San Antonio–to–Uvalde signage on September 13, asking for $9,000 in donations to fund two billboards and raising that amount in less than a day. The organization collaborated with Fierce Madres, an activist group of Latina women formed in the aftermath of the shooting by Uvalde native and Robb Elementary alum Angela Villescaz. Though MAGA indicated the signs were requested by families of the Uvalde victims, the group says MAGA sought the families’ approval for the signage. Villescaz says that MAGA, working with Fierce Madres and its border connections, plans to erect more billboards along the border, from Brownsville to El Paso. 

In total, Mothers Against Greg Abbott has raised $75,000 to erect sixteen  billboards advocating for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, the first five of which went up in August. The PAC says it will continue to fund-raise for signage and ads with various pro-Beto, anti-Abbott messaging in the lead-up to the election in November. 

Started as a response to Governor Greg Abbott’s COVID policy, Mothers Against Greg Abbott—with its ironic MAGA acronym—was founded in 2021 as a bipartisan effort to protect Texas families against policies they believe to be harmful, particularly to children. Likewise, Fierce Madres positions its interests as aligned with those of mothers, printing shirts bearing the phrase “Hispanic Moms United.”

MAGA also received attention this fall for a thirty-second ad featuring a body armor–clad student headed to his first day back at school. Released August 15, as many Texas families were gearing up for the back-to-school season, the ad also featured text reading, “Our children are not soldiers.” 

The virality of that ad helped the PAC raise some $370,000 this summer, according to Thompson, who spoke to the Texas Tribune in early August. In addition to gun violence, MAGA has also turned its focus on issues such as the electrical grid failure in the historic freeze of 2021, during which hundreds of Texans died; the state’s abortion ban, which permits no exceptions for rape or incest; book bans that have resulted in the removal of hundreds of books from public schools; and the busing of migrants out of state. Other ads include a video spot called “Breaking Bread,” in which several ideologically diverse women overcome their differences in order to “[fight] for families,” and an image of a reading stick figure lounging over the ubiquitous Texan slogan “Come and Take It.”

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