A Barrio Logan school that is under construction is the center of a battle. Artists in the community painted a mural at Memorial Preparatory School in the 1970s and part of the construction involves tearing that wall down, an action the artists tried to fight.
The artists gathered outside the school Wednesday to voice their concerns over the destruction of the wall. They said they asked the San Diego Unified School District to move the mural before tearing the wall down, but the school said asbestos in the wall made it too dangerous to move and it could not be saved.
The artists said the wall is a celebration of the Chicano community.
“What I painted on the wall was the diversity of the students, the diversity of the world. I got on there blacks, browns, whites, Chinese and everybody that was concentrated there including Jimmy Hendrix,” said Mario Torero, one of the original artists.
A spokesperson for the school district said this construction is years in the making and will ultimately better the community because of the improved infrastructure. The district took high quality photographs of the mural and plans to display those pictures on the newly renovated campus. There will also be space for new murals. They added that they did not want to take the mural down, but had to for safety reasons.
For the Chicano community, these actions are not enough. They wanted more effort in trying to preserve the piece of history.
“We are finally facing what we want, justice, not just for one, not for all, so this is a very important move we’re doing here. They mean business too, so do we,” said Torero.
Wednesday, the original artists and advocates gathered in front of the construction to share their message. Shortly after, a woman sat in the middle of the demolition zone in protest. She was eventually arrested and moments after she left the area, demolition of the mural continued and it fell to the ground. The artists were standing by to watch their work fall.
“It is very very hurtful, especially knowing that we were trying to save it and we did everything possible to save it. They went ahead anyway in a callous manner so this just shows you what we’re having to endure.”