Vandalism or Art? BLM Sacramento Calls for Return of Unauthorized Mural on Historic Theater

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Members of BLM Sacramento chanted “I said if we don’t get our mural, they don’t get no peace,”outside the Guild Theater on Saturday, Nov. 18. (Image courtesy of KCRA)

Members of Black Lives Matter-Sacramento rallied outside Oak Park’s Guild Theater over the weekend to demand the return of a mural honoring African-American men killed by local law enforcement.

The artwork, painted on the alley-side wall of the 102-year-old building in October, depicted the faces of Lorenzo Cruz, Dazion Flenaugh, Mikel McIntyre, Joseph Mann, Desmond Phillips Adriene Ludd and Ryan Ellis, who all died at the hands of police, according to station KCRA. The mural was painted without consent, however, prompting property owners to remove it. Now, community supporters want it back.

“It was beautiful to see all those Black faces on the wall, and then also for folks to come to either learn about the people that have been killed by law enforcement or for them to come and mourn their loved ones,” Tanya Faison, founder of Black Lives Matter-Sacramento, told the news station.

“If we don’t get our mural, they don’t get no peace!” Faison and dozens of other community supporters were heard chanting outside the theater’s doors Saturday.

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Images courtesy of The Sacramento Observer.

The building is currently owned by St. HOPE Development Company, a nonprofit founded by former Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson. Tracy Stigler, the president of the company, said he had to shell out $500 for a high-powered water hose to remove the unauthorized paintings on the side of the historic theater. It’s still unclear who put the mural there, but Stigler promised that those responsible for the “vandalism” would be held accountable.

His decision to blast the artwork away has angered many in the community, however.

“My friends, whoever they are, decided they wanted to paint a little art on the side of the Guild,” Stigler told The Sacramento Observer. “It’s just the fact that somebody thinks it’s OK to paint your [building] without permission. Nobody is taking responsibility for it, but people are saying ‘It’s a good thing’ and ‘How dare you?’ ”

Resident and supporter of the mural Joseph Turner said if he were the building owner and such a painting appeared, he wouldn’t be terribly upset.

“In fact, I’d kind of be a little bit like, ‘Hey, my building is that much of a staple in the community that they want to put this message here,’ ” Turner told KCRA.

Under California Penal Code 594, vandalism becomes a criminal offense when damage to the vandalized property costs $400 or more. In such a case, the Sacramento County DA’s Office District could decide to charge those responsible with either a felony or a misdemeanor.

Stigler said he doesn’t have plans to seek conviction.

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