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.