A San Francisco mural depicting what locals describe as LGBT gangsters has been defaced for a second time, just days after a new replica was added. The new mural went up Thursday evening but by Saturday night it was spray painted with black lines that went from side to side.
The San Francisco Police Department is investigating the incidents as a hate crime, a spokesperson told Fusion.
“The defacement and re-defacement of the current digital mural by Manuel Paul of Maricón Collective has only proven the credibility of its purpose,” read a statement released by Galería de la Raza, a community gallery in the city’s historically Latino Mission District.
“Galeria de la Raza believes in the importance of continued dialogue about LGBTQ visibility, awareness, and acceptance in the Mission District and within the greater Latin@ communities,” the statement continued.
The mural was part of an exhibit at the gallery that challenged “heterosexuality in lowrider culture,” a Mexican-American subculture rooted around custom car enthusiasts in East Los Angeles. The mural included two men and two women embracing each other while a transgender man with visible top surgery scars stood at the center of the mural.
But some locals took offense to the gay, lesbian and transgender subjects in the mural and took to Instagram arguing LGBT people did not exist in gangs in the Mission or the lowrider community. Others complained the mural appropriated low rider culture.
The comments didn’t just include criticism. Some people threatened to deface the mural while others said they would physically harm the artist and his supporters.
When reached for comment the artist Manuel Paul said he only wanted to thank “all of our supporters that are helping Galería de la Raza and Maricón collective at this time. We have many hands that are guiding us through this. Thank you all again C/S."
The gallery added a fundraising page to its website specifically to raise funds for the cost of the additional digital murals that they’ve had to print.
A spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Department said the case is being investigated as a hate crime.
"This case is going to the special investigations division which handles all hate crime cases," officer Grace Gatpandan, a spokesperson for the SFPD, told Fusion.
Gatpandan said the department is reviewing surveillance footage. She said charges would depend on the value of the damage to the mural and whether the case is ultimately ruled a hate crime.
The gallery is currently organizing a forum to discuss the murals with the community.
“This will be a platform for people to agree or disagree,” said Henry Pacheco, a communication coordinator for the gallery.
“We want to get as many views and community members involved and have a conversation as opposed to just the tagging,” Pacheco told Fusion.
Pacheco said the gallery expects to have a new mural and additional details about the community forum by the end of the week.