Community Meeting Tonight to Discuss the Vandalism of the Crenshaw Wall

The Crenshaw Wall tells the story of the community's resilience, strength, beauty, and power. Someone covered the faces of four female Black Panthers (one of which is in the frame) with swastikas on November 29th. The streetlight was down to make way for the Space Shuttle Endeavor as it moved up Crenshaw in 2012.  Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
The Crenshaw Wall tells the story of the community's resilience, strength, beauty, and power. Someone covered the faces of four female Black Panthers (one of which is in the frame) with swastikas on November 29th. The streetlight was down to make way for the Space Shuttle Endeavor as it moved up Crenshaw in 2012. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Join community leaders, stakeholders, and law enforcement at a meeting at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Hills Community Room to discuss the painting of swastikas on four female Black Panther figures on the Crenshaw Wall.

As we wrote last week, Jasmyne Cannick had quickly alerted the South Central community to the November 29th attack on the “Our Mighty Contribution” mural gracing the 7800-foot-long Great Wall.

Some of the original artists immediately rallied to remove the hateful symbols and restore the mural to its original state. In a facebook post, The Crenshaw Wall Restoration Project declared such disrespect would not be tolerated and that love could conquer hate.

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Painted by the Rockin’ the Nation Crew (see the original 12 RTN members), “Our Mighty Contribution” has rarely been defaced.

The RTN Crew had originally taken to the wall in 2001 to offer the community a celebration of its resilience. beauty, strength, and power.

The wall had long served as a gathering place, especially for those participating in car clubs and low-rider culture throughout the decades. When the crew saw the wall’s potential to serve as a medium for communication with the community – such as when “Drifting on a Memory” mourned the death of the young artist “Clever” or the “Rhyme Pays” mural referenced Ice-T and the Rhyme Syndicate’s commentaries on their reality – they began to think bigger. Namely, they would uplift and unify the community around the story of all that black people had given to the world. [See more photos of Ice-T with the mural here.]

The finished piece begins with the words, “In the beginning” and walks observers from the dawn of time (where a woman blows peace into the universe) up through present day, where a woman points the way forward and gives birth to the future. Along the way, it features a number of notables, including Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Dizzy Gillespie, and scenes from the community’s journey, including slavery, drumming, dancing, and the reclaiming of rights, among others.

The love the community has for the Great Wall means that, for the most part, its greatest enemies have been time and, more recently, the possibility that gentrification will displace the very community the mural is meant to speak to.

The appearance of swastikas, and subsequent online comments dismissing the vandalism and arguing that the Black Panthers “represented hate,” speak to the extent to which some remain dedicated to limiting black access to power.

As Crenshaw moves forward on projects like #Destination Crenshaw – an outdoor open-access “People’s Museum” dedicated to showcasing black stories, creativity, innovation, and vibrancy – the prevention of vandalism aimed at silencing black voices becomes of even greater concern.

Learn more about where the investigation stands and how the community might guard against future such incidents with Southwest LAPD officers and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Hills Community Room, First Floor (3782 W. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd).

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