LGBT Mural at Galería de la Raza Set on Fire

Ani Rivera, director of Galería de la Raza, speaks before a crowd of 300 supporters where a LGBT mural was set ablaze on Monday night, June 29. Photo by Tulio Ospina.

Ani Rivera, director of Galería de la Raza, speaks before a crowd of 300 supporters where a LGBT mural was set ablaze on Monday night, June 29. Photo by Tulio Ospina.

SF Mission Locals Call for Unity in the Face of Hate Crime

By Tulio Ospina

Over 300 community members rallied last Wednesday in front of Galería de la Raza, an art gallery in San Francisco’s Mission district where an LGBT mural depicting two gay couples and a Latino trans man has been defaced three times in the last month.

The artist from the Los Angeles-based Maricón Collective had just finished repainting the mural for a second time when someone attempted to set the wall on fire last Monday night, endangering the lives of the building’s inhabitants.

This happened on June 29, the day after San Francisco celebrated its largest Pride event in history.

“In the face of the Supreme Court’s decision for marriage equality and the joyous Pride celebration we had, waking up the next day and seeing this was incredibly painful,” said San Francisco Supervisor David Campos, speaking at the rally.

Campos and several community leaders spoke at the gathering, sharing words of anger, pain, and sadness. Many speakers spoke about the need to remain united.

“We cannot let this violent act be a distraction for our community,” said Ani Rivera, director of the Galería.

“We must come together to retain our history and regain our space. Ten thousand people have been displaced from the Mission—8,000 of them Latino—and we cannot let this be a distraction,” she said

Rivera was referring to the fight that many community organizations are currently engaged in to get the San Francisco City Council to pass a moratorium on the development of luxury housing in the area.

Last Monday’s hate crime also comes at a time when at least seven predominantly Black churches have gone up in flames throughout the South since the shooting at Emanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina.

Mount Zion AME, one of the churches that caught fire this past week, had previously been burned to the ground by members of the Ku Klux Klan in a rash of church fires that torched more than 600 mostly Black churches across the South in 1995.

Mount Zion was within driving distance of the church where the nine worshipers were murdered.

Among the speakers at the Galería de la Raza was Rev. Richard Smith, a clergyman from St. John the Evangelist in San Francisco, who also stressed the importance of unity within the community.

“Racism and homophobia all come from the same beast,” said Rev. Smith, linking the acts of arson. “We have to deal with the same hatred here in the Bay as they do in the South and it all has to do with how we come together to deal with it.”

“Too many moms and dads have shed tears seeing their kids get killed or sent to prison or deported. But we’ve stood together—and strongly so—since the beginning. It is important for us to stay together still,” added Rev. Smith.

San Francisco police are currently investigating the hate crime. The Galería had installed surveillance cameras facing the mural after it was vandalized the first time.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, July 5, 2015 (postnewsgroup.com)