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 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.

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7 Comments

  1. The tag above and the tag linked in the comments of the earlier article happened less than 24 hours after the shooting at 16th and Mission. As far as tags go, these two are simple to decipher. They came from a specific clique.

    The Norteno and Sureno gangs were organizing at the same time as Chavez. La eMe (Mexican Mafia) was first and quickly dominated the prisons MM members looked down on the farm workers who were doing time.

    The imprisoned “Nortenos” were tired of it and they created Nuestra Familia. Chavez soon introduced the thunderbird, borrowing heavily from Aztecan art. But Chavez was born in the States, which makes him a Norteno by default.

    1. You might have some difficulty convincing a gang member born in LA that he’s a Norteno. The same way you’d have trouble convincing the guy who used blue paint to tag the mural that he’s a Norteno.

  2. Lets not forget that saint Cesar Chavez opposed illegal immigration because it would steal American jobs. A rhetoric heard all too commonly in 2018

  3. Of course it’s going to get crossed out I mean u should already know that living in the mission were do u think u are at. and it’s on 24th a known norteño block from mission St to Potrero st wtf u really are surprised come on now just like that other mural on Harrison was it ? With the 2 men kissing each other with bandanas on and it was vandalized of course we all know it was norteños that did it because it was on 24th and they don’t want to look like they condone that homosexual stuff

  4. You’re an idiot if you don’t realize Chavez publicly changed his tune in November 22, 1974. Nice try, you Trumpanzee

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