A public school in California is at the center of a heated national controversy after artists painted a mural on campus that depicts an Aztec warrior carrying President Donald Trump’s severed head.
The mural at MAAC Community Charter School in Chula Vista was part of an annual event called Battlegroundz, “which highlights the urban art form of street murals to raise money to provide scholarships for seniors,” according to KUSI News, which first reported the story.
The high school, which has around 300 students, is about eight miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border and the San Ysidro port of entry, the busiest border crossing in the world. The student body is about 95 percent Latinx, and many are the first in their families to graduate from high school, according to the school’s website.
After the mural drew national attention—including from supposed free speech champions like Sean Hannity—MAAC distanced itself.
“We understand that there was a mural painted at the event this past weekend that does not align with our school’s philosophy of non-violence,” the school’s director Tommy Ramirez said in a statement. “We have been in communication with the artist who has agreed to modify the artwork to better align with the school’s philosophy.”
Sasha Andrade—who is part of the collective of artists behind the mural—said the group would replace it entirely because the school has received threats from white supremacists.
“We decided to change the mural because there were threats made to the school from ‘white supremacist[s]’ and threats to the kids,” Andrade wrote on Facebook on Sunday.
Andrade said that initially the artists planned to just “adjust” the mural, but since the threats came in, “we decided to change it completely.” The local ABC affiliate reported the mural is in the process of being replaced with a new piece featuring creative Latinx leaders from San Diego.
In an Instagra post, Andrade declared she is still standing by the original work.
The Washington Post reported the Secret Service is aware of the mural but “would not say if Andrade’s painting is the subject of an investigation by its protective intelligence division.”
One of the artists behind the mural, who goes by Mex, said that he hopes to amplify voices who aren’t heard. He told ABC 10 the mural is a form of expression and that he is “not apologizing for anybody.”
Mex said he hopes to recreate the original mural off school property.