Tortilla Flats Legacy mural vandalism cut short by proactive citizen action and police response

Community volunteers cleaned the mural, so that the restoration work could begin.

by M.B. Hanrahan and Moses Mora; creators the Tortilla Flats mural

Our most recent collaboration, the Tortilla Flats Legacy mural, corner of W. Main St, and S. Ventura Ave. only recently completed 2/2020, was unfortunately recently vandalized. On the night of September 9 someone took chalk, marker pens, and a knife and some bad intentions to the mural. Chalk and marker pen graffiti are relatively easy to remove. Damage done by a knife requires repainting (at another location) and patched into the existing mural. 5 mural panels and several information lettering panels sustained damage-slashed by the knife.

The perpetrators of public art vandalism are rarely caught, but in this case, someone was arrested and charged with felony vandalism. The person arrested is well known to the local police, he’s homeless and has mental health issues. We would prefer that he get help, not punishment.

The vandalism was discovered, and the police were called by a conscientious citizen, Scott Adams, who remained on the scene until the cops arrived. Mr. Adams advocated for the value of this community sponsored public art when the officers were reluctant to press charges in absence of the property owner.

The entire mural would likely have been damaged if not for citizen action, the police taking action, and community public art being perceived as valuable and worth saving.

Grateful as we are, that, for us, is not necessarily cause for celebration. We estimate $2,000.00 worth of restoration work, and are hoping the individual will not strike again.

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