Men of Metro were at the wall early Memorial Day morning to cover the lower eight feet of the Memorial Wall, in respect for those names damaged by the graffiti or graffiti removal. Men and women of the community have not only helped with the graffiti removal but have united to help get the perpetrators and to restore the wall.
“As we celebrate Memorial Day, Los Angeles and the nation are horrified at this despicable act of desecration, a horrible insult to those who paid the sacrifice for their nation,” wrote Councilman Mike Bonin. “We are taking every step possible to identify and arrest those responsible, and to restore this historic mural that pays tribute to our POWs and MIAs.
“My office and LA Metro, which owns the property, has engaged a range of agencies to accomplish both tasks: the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department the Los Angeles Police Department; the City of Los Angeles Office of Community Beautification; and the The Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), one of the most respected mural restoration agencies in the country.
“The Sheriff’s Department is the lead agency in the investigation. Anyone with information about the incident or those responsible should call 888 950 7233, or my office at 310-575-8461. The City of Los Angeles offers a standing reward of $2,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people responsible for illegal graffiti, and when the City Council meets next on Tuesday, I plan to introduce a motion increasing that reward to $10,000 for this incident. I anticipate the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will do the same.
“Unfortunately, restoring the mural is not as simple as removing the paint left by the vandals. The mural, which is several decades old, had no protective anti-graffiti coating, so removal of the vandals’ paint could destroy the mural itself. Judy Baca, Founder and Artistic Director of the Venice-based SPARC, and her team are conducting an assessment and will determine the best way to save and restore the mural.
“Peter Stewart, the artist who painted the mural in the early 1990s, is deceased. To properly restore the mural, we will need the public’s assistance. Anyone with photos of the mural (especially photos of the lower portion of the mural, including the names of the POWs and MIAs from that section of the mural) are asked to send them to my Venice-area field deputy Taylor Bazley at Taylor.email@example.com.
“While the restoration work is being completed, the mural will be covered out of respect for the brave men and women it was painted to honor.
“I sincerely thank the members of the community who have called attention to this disgraceful act, and for all those who have voiced their outrage, sending a powerful reminder to our veterans that their service and sacrifice are respected and cherished by the people of Venice, of Los Angeles, of California, and of the United States.
“I also want to thank Phil Washington, CEO of LA Metro; Alex Wiggins, Executive Officer, System Security & Law Enforcement of LA Metro; Judy Baca, Debra J.T. Padilla and Carlos Rogel of SPARC; Paul Racs of the Office of Community Beautification; George Francisco of the Venice Chamber of Commerce; and Stewart Oscars, a Venice resident, for their quick action and attention.”
STATEMENT OF METRO CEO AND U.S. ARMY VETERAN PHIL WASHINGTON
“Metro staff, LASD and LAPD began problem-solving this issue yesterday, assisted by volunteers from the Venice community. We were initially hopeful that the graffiti could be removed without damaging the memorial but Metro’s contractor says the damage is too extensive. Metro will work with the community to gather historical photos so the wall can be restored. In the meantime, Metro will cover the wall as a gesture of respect to the fallen whose names were covered by the graffiti.”