Tuesday morning. Photo by Emma Neiman

An arsonist set fire  to the Galería de la Raza’s digital mural illustrating gay love Monday night at 11:12 p.m, according to the police and fire department.

It was the fourth time that someone has vandalized Manuel Paul’s mural Por Vida. The digital triptych on Bryant Street and 24th Streets shows two gay men, a transgender person, and two lesbian lovers.

“When we arrived the fire had been extinguished,” said Mindy Talmadge, a spokesperson for the Fire Department.  The damage, she said, was contained to the mural.

Talmadge declined to say what materials had been used to start the fire.

The mural was replaced on Friday at the start of Pride Weekend in San Francisco.  It was the third time the mural – done on a digital print out at a cost of $3,000 –  had been replaced.  A vigil was held that night and Ani Rivera, the director of the Galería, said she stayed over night at the gallery on Friday.  It was still in good shape on Monday morning.

Rivera said she was unsure if they would again replace the damaged mural.

“We have to consider a lot of things, including the safety of our neighbors upstairs,” Rivera said on Tuesday morning.

She added that at present they are focusing on organizing a community forum, set tentatively for July 18th. They are still looking for a place that will be large enough.

In a prepared statement released later in the day she added, “…the emotional trauma our neighbors and local communities have suffered is unacceptable and we must finds ways to heal.”

The anger, she added, “has moved beyond the dislike a piece of art and into endangering the lives of families who live in the building and could have displaced families that have lived in the building for more than 20 years.”

Rivera said the Galería has security footage of Monday night’s incident and that there is an active investigation underway.

Residents interviewed in the area this morning said they heard and saw nothing. One of them said that there was drilling going on late at night, but that was all she heard.

The two earlier incidents took place over successive weekends.  This was the first weekend without an incident.

Earlier, the Galería’s director said that she recognized someone in the security video footage.  The earlier acts of vandalism are being investigated by the San Francisco Police Department as hate crimes.

Tuesday morning. Photo by Emma Neiman
The mural on Sunday. Photo by Lydia Chávez

We are updating the information this story as we get more information.

Earlier Stories

Mural at Galería Survives Friday and Saturday Nights, June 28, 2015

SF Galería Recognizes One Suspect in Video, June 25, 2015

Gay Mural Will Be Restored As Many Times As Needed, June 24, 2015

Mural Honoring Gay Love Vandalized Again, June 22, 2015

SF Gay Mural Defaced and defamed, June 17, 2015

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Founder/Executive Editor. I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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  1. This is a Hate crime and It’s very sad to think someone would burn down a building to destroy a digital Mural

  2. This mural has always felt to me like the lowest form of a kind of cultural imperialism, even if it is in a superficially politically correct form. I am not at all surprised that people are setting fire to it, even though arson is clearly a dangerous and shameful way to express displeasure with it.

    First and most glaringly obvious is that it is a hideous piece of plastic which only pretends to be a “mural” if you are driving by too quickly to notice that it is fake. And this on a street that is home to Precita Eyes and to numerous and varied examples of the real mural art form. Second is that it is attached to a “gallery” that is part of the process of white middle class colonization of the last center of Latino commerce and culture in the central part of this city (no matter that the gallery owner and her “artist” are both nominally Latino by name, the socioeconomic forces they represent are white and yuppie or techie, however you want to describe it). And the mural takes the form and aesthetic of a local means of cultural expression, the street mural, and turns it to the purposes of one of the largest and most powerful socioeconomic classes of the city (the white LGBT bloc), in a sense twisting and appropriating the working class’s means of expression to once again express the dominant class’s point of view.

    In short, this mural feels inflicted on 24th St, while pretending (in a very cheap and plasticky way) to be part of it. I say pull it off the wall and burn it.

    1. Jack, 1st, My sorrow to the community at large re; Art destruction issue…
      yet Jack you reference to ‘white middle…”, in yyour writing, yet use
      ‘Latino’ to describe another ethnic/culture, which is incongruent, in that, ..
      Caucasian is appropriate to use vs ‘white’; the archaic racist ‘color’ of skin manner to identify?…just saying Professor Brown…whether ‘white’ is the current target or not….

    2. Jack, Galeria de la Raza was founded in 1970. Its mission is to foster public awareness and appreciation of Chicano/Latino art and serve as a laboratory where artists can both explore contemporary issues in art, culture and civic society, and advance intercultural dialogue. You can read about it here: http://galeriadelaraza.org/eng/about/index.php

    3. I definitely get the cultural colonialism angle. This is a mural that was destined to gain support from the privileged and politically powerful, and destined to be controversial in the Mission. But is there no space for expressing Latino queer and trans identities? Is doing so inherently pro-gentrification?

      Conversely, is it not possible for me to oppose gentrification and displacement, while at the same time condemning violent homophobia?

  3. We LGBT Mission residents will not be intimidated. There’s nothing more cowardly than a closet queen macho who feels his sexuality threatened. We will fight back.

  4. My father was standing outside of his house when he saw the flames, he saw the guy run away on bryant street towards 25th street. He then grabbed a fire extinguisher he has in his garage, ran towards the mural and put the flames out. He has cameras on his house that caught everything, cops said they were going to call us for the footage but never did.

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