Incessant vandalism of the United Farm Workers' logo, a symbol subsequently appropriated by a gang, led muralist Carlos Gonzalez to eventually paint over the "Huelga Bird" with a portrait of Dolores Huerta. Photo by Carlos Gonzalez.

A mural depicting Cesar Chavez, the co-founder of the United Farmworkers Union, was vandalized sometime Tuesday night.

The mural “Y tu, y yo y Cesar” was dedicated to Chavez, to the community and to other revolutionary heroes, said Carlos Gonalez, the artist, who’s also a former probation officer.

It was defaced with gang tags, including a “16” scrawled on part of Chavez’s face and an X crossing out the eagle, the symbol of the United Farm Workers.

In recent years, the eagle has also been adopted as the icon of rival prison gangs.

Already, Gonzalez said, community members who work with youth have offered “to educate” those responsible about the mural’s history and heroes. It was particularly troubling, he said, that the vandals are likely from the Mission.

Gonzalez first painted a mural on the York Street wall in 1984 with muralist Ray Patlan, his mentor. “It was a mirror of the neighborhood, snapshots of people here,” he said, adding that gang members helped paint the first mural.

Ten years later, that mural had aged and he asked Patlan for permission to paint another mural over it. Chavez had died in the spring of 1993, and Gonzales wanted to honor him as well as other heroes, including Pancho Villa. To keep with the spirit of the first mural, Gonzalez also added members of the community and the mural was painted with the help of at-risk youth.

The mural, he said, will be restored.

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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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6 Comments

  1. It’s not an attack on Chavez but the symbol of the black eagle that was adopted by a gang, that is not just found in prison. X3 is opposing gang. The statement, “Fuck Bustaz” is a phrase that solidifies this. ‘Buster’ is derogatory term referencing one of the gangs. 16 may describe neighborhood of taggers specific gang-crew. Disrespect, I would say is not targeted towards Raza art or heroes but a representation of division amongst our youth in our neighborhoods. This should alert us to the greater need to offer alternatives to youth to ensure they have options to succeed in life through a quality education, career, or productive job. That means we have to organize more programs for academic advancement, and advocacy so schools do good four or kids, engage kids to be the next muralists and help on murals painted, coding camps to get kids in technology, athletic leagues, cultural celebrations and much more.

  2. Prolly some millionaire techbro taking a break from evicting teachers and chopping down trees. Why are you censoring my comment? Are only staff allowed to make ridiculous, unfounded accusations about techies?

    1. Hi Shaun —

      You continue to misuse the term “censor.” I am under no obligation to print your comments, and will not do so when they engage in ad hominem attacks. You can abide by the parameters of rational discourse we’d prefer on this website or you can get your own.

      Best,

      JE

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