PHOENIX, Arizona – Racist graffiti appeared on one of the murals in the Calle 16 Mural Project, which emphasizes Mexican culture, in Phoenix on Monday.
“You sorry ass putos. Go back to Mexico” could be read on a painting of a social and family scene that is part of the artistic project and the act of vandalism outraged the Calle 16 promoters.
“It’s nasty to see these expressions. It seems that these acts have no end, but they’re carrying that ... hate in their heart,” Silvana Salcido Esparza, the promoter of the mural project, told EFE.
“In 2010, when they were seeking to strictly regulate immigration, I asked them to make me a mural in the back alley. Then, someone came by and insulted us. That translates into ‘I want to paint more,’” said the activist, and the large-scale artistic project grew from there.
The number of Calle 16 murals surged in that year in response to the unease being felt among Latinos over Arizona’s SB1070 anti-immigrant law, which made it a state misdemeanor crime for an alien to be in Arizona without carrying the required documents and required state law enforcement personnel to determine a person’s immigration status during a “lawful stop, detention or arrest” if any suspicion existed that the person might be an illegal immigrant.
According to Salcido, she got the support of the community to paint murals on dozens of streets, all of them alluding to popular perceptions of Mexican-American culture and emphasizing ethnic pride.
Salcido said that the essence of the murals is to fight against racial hatred, as well as to emphasize the diversity of both Mexican and American culture.
“They don’t like our project, but they don’t go out to sweep the streets, to collect trash. They want the streets like they were before, full of drunks and prostitutes,” she said.
There are some 20 murals in the Calle 16 project between McDowell and Thomas Streets.
The paintings bring color to the neighborhood and emphasize typical Mexican scenes, in terms of religiosity, fiestas and culture.
The mural that was defaced shows a Mexican party with its typical piñata.
“Today we’re removing that offensive graffiti that they did,” said Salcido, adding that she’s planning another large mural devoted to the 800,000 so-called “Dreamers,” young undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as minors but have benefited under former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Donald Trump suspended in September.
“We want everyone to see ... these young people at work and at their studies. We’re going to paint the other reality,” one that is not accepted by the “anti-Dreamers,” she said.