Mural Depicting Queer Love Targeted by Arsonist Last Night in Latest Vandalism Attack

A colorful mural illustrating queer love in San Francisco’s Mission District was vandalized late Monday night for the third time since it was unveiled earlier this month, police said Tuesday.

All three acts of vandalism are being investigated as hate crimes, according to San Francisco police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza.

The artwork, which is a digital mural, was created by Manuel Paul of the Los Angeles-based Maricon Collective. Titled “Por Vida” or “For Life,” the mural was unveiled by San Francisco’s Galerie de la Raza on June 13th and is located close to the gallery, on the side of a building at the intersection of 24th and Bryant streets.

The mural depicts three scenes mixing queer and low-rider culture. One scene shows two men together, another shows a transgender person and the third shows two women together.

The most recent act of vandalism was reported at about 11:20 p.m. on Monday. The suspect set fire to the mural before fleeing the scene, Esparza said.

A Good Samaritan put the fire out with a fire extinguisher before it spread to the rest of the building, according to Esparza. The arsonist had set fire to the part of the mural depicting two
men together.

Esparza said that on June 16th and again on June 21st, the mural was vandalized with graffiti. Police do not have video footage of the first act of vandalism, but video surveillance equipment was installed prior to the second attack and footage showed a suspect wearing a black hoodie.

The footage from Monday, Esparza said, showed a male suspect between 20 and 40s years of age who is either Hispanic or white. He is covering his face with a black cloth and wearing a black sweatshirt, black pants, white tennis shoes and white gloves.

Galeria de la Raza’s executive director Ani Rivera released a statement Tuesday following the most recent act of vandalism, stating that “Galeria de la Raza strongly condemns last night’s act of terrorism to try to yet again silence Chicano/Latino LGBTQ visibility.”

While no one was physically hurt, Rivera said the act caused “emotional trauma” for neighbors and endangered the lives of families.

Rivera said the gallery will host a community conversation on Saturday, July 18, and that event details will be announced soon.

On June 21, following the first two acts of vandalism, Rivera released a statement saying, “The defacement and re-defacement of the current digital mural by Manuel Paul of Maricon Collective has only proven the credibility of its purpose.”

Rivera said that the defacement proves that “homophobia is alive and well in our communities; however, we will not let it thrive.”

Paul, the muralist whose work has been repeatedly defaced, also released a statement on the gallery’s website regarding the vandalism.

“Por Vida was created to celebrate the LGTBQ Chicano/Latino culture within the context of a historically Chicano Barrio,” Paul writes.

“Through our art and our work we present counter-stories that reflect queers growing up in the Barrio. Barrio Queerness is not a new concept or trend, it as always existed but has been silenced by centuries of patriarchy and machismo that plague our communities.”

Paul said he hopes that people will be able to see the love depicted in the mural and that they will try to understand the obstacles faced in life by those who are victims of racism, sexism and homophobia.

A fundraising campaign to restore the mural has been set up here:

Change of Plea Hearing for Yee, Jackson, Two Others Scheduled Wednesday

Former state Sen. Leland Yee, who faces corruption and money-laundering charges, and three other men are scheduled for change of plea hearings in federal court in San Francisco Wednesday.

The change of plea hearings for Yee; political consultant and former San Francisco school board president Keith Jackson; Jackson’s son, Brandon Jackson; and sports agent Marlon Sullivan were posted Tuesday on the Wednesday schedule of U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer.

The four men previously pleaded not guilty to charges against them and were scheduled for a joint trial in Breyer’s court on Aug. 10. The schedule and the court docket for the case gave no indication as to which, if any, of the charges against the four men the plea hearing might concern.

U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Abraham Simmons confirmed that a change of plea hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday but said he could not say what charges the potential plea change will concern.

“I know there have been negotiations,” Simmons said.

Yee’s lawyer, James Lassart, was not available for comment, according to his office. Jackson’s lawyer, James Brosnahan, had no comment Tuesday, an office spokeswoman said.

Yee, a Democrat, formerly represented the western half of San Francisco and most of San Mateo County in the state Senate.

Yee is charged with 13 counts, including conspiring to racketeer by soliciting campaign contributions in exchange for political favors, conspiring to launder money and conspiring in a never-completed alleged international arms deal.

Keith Jackson, a consultant who worked on Yee’s unsuccessful campaigns for mayor and secretary of state, faces those same counts. He, Brandon Jackson and Sullivan are additionally accused of selling guns without a license to an undercover FBI agent posing as a Mafia member.

The four men are among 28 people charged in a complaint and three successive indictments, beginning in the spring of 2014, with a wide range of organized-crime and corruption offenses. The most recent indictment, issued by a federal grand jury on Jan. 29, contains 230 counts.

Other defendants include Chinatown association leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow and colleagues, who are accused of racketeering conspiracy in an alleged scheme to operate an organized-crime enterprise. Keith Jackson is charged in that conspiracy but Yee is not.

The other defendants were due to have one or more separate trials after the first trial of Yee, the two Jacksons and Sullivan was completed.

Today’s Weather Forecast

Today will be partly cloudy in the morning with patchy fog expected in the area. Highs will be in the upper 60s to lower 70s. West winds could reach 5 to 15 mph.

Tonight will be mostly cloudy with lows in the upper 50s. Southwest winds could reach 5 to 15 mph.

Thursday will be mostly cloudy with highs in the 50s to upper 60s. Southwest winds could reach 5 to 15 mph.

(News Roundup Via Bay City News)