A Cesar Chavez mural that was vandalized last Tuesday will be losing its so-called “huelga bird” — the symbol of the United Farm Workers that, more recently, has been used as a Norteño gang sign.
“I gotta paint over the eagle, because it’s a center of attention for these little gang-bangers,” said Carlos Gonalez, who painted the 24th and York Streets mural.
It will be replaced by a portrait of Dolores Huerta, a leading member of the United Farm Workers. “It’s a compromise,” Gonzalez said. “I might as well pay her homage and diminish the liability on my Farm Workers mural.”
Gonzalez had no doubt that a group of Sureños was responsible for last week’s vandalism. “They don’t care what it [actually] stands for,” he said. “All they know is they’re crossing out their rival symbol.”
A source from the San Francisco Police Department also suspected the vandalism was a “fuck you” to the Norteños in the neighborhood. “It’s like a game of tag,” the officer said. “Like, ‘catch me if you can.’” He said many gang members have no idea of the symbol’s rich, non-gang history.
Erick Arguello of Calle 24 Merchants Association said the tagging of murals by gangs is unusual nowadays. “We’ve haven’t seen it in a long time,” he said. “There’s a silent respect that [gangs] don’t touch the murals.”
“So, when it does happen,” Arguello added, “it’s hard to tell what’s going on.”
Gonzalez painted the mural, titled Y tu, y yo y Cesar, in 1984 with fellow muralist Ray Patlan. They dedicated it to Chavez, the community and other revolutionary heroes, Gonzalez told Mission Local last week.
Restoration efforts are already underway. Gonzalez said he and a crew will be getting together Thursday afternoon around 2:30 p.m. to rehabilitate the artwork.
“We’re gonna have a little party,” he said.