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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  • Scott Voolker

    Painting swastikas in public is usually done by individuals who want to maximize the attention that their juvenile prank will get. By giving it such high profile coverage, isn’t there at least a pretty good chance that we are playing right into their hands?

    While I am not sure if we should describe the Black Panthers as representing hate–or, at least, only hate–considering that they tortured and murdered Alex Rackley, one of their own members, perhaps there are some good reasons why we should not hold up this organization as the ideal model as to what a political pressure group should be. They were a violent group, and not only externally.

  • Lauren Bertrand

    Your observation highlights the reality of those of us who have chosen to become unwoke: while the Left is always trying to tamp down the “far-right”, no movement is too radical for the far-left, including some of the most violent.

    If there’s a town in the rural south where a commissioned artist is painting a tribute to Byron de la Beckwith or Edgar Ray Killen, that town sure is keeping it a secret. And we all know that NYT or WaPo would jump at a chance to expose to the uncritical American media consumer just how bad things still are in Dixie. So it probably just isn’t happening.

    In the meantime, we see the nu-Left continue to celebrate such figures of “progressive change” as the Black Panthers, “peace activists” like Rachel Corrie, and “liberation movement” leaders like Assata Shakur. Murderous Che Guevarra is still a pop figure, screen printed on t-shirts. Heck, even V.I. Lenin gets mythologized through Agitprop that is just as likely to appear on a trendy college professor’s office wall, even as his likeness got nearly completely dismantled and purged from the Soviet Union.

    This doesn’t excuse vandalism, which should be condemned on its own terms for the criminal act itself. But if toppling Silent Sam at UNC campus is a righteous act to some, one can perhaps cultivate a bit more discernment to see why the defacement of this mural might be a righteous act to others.

  • sahra

    I’d say, “really, you came here to defend swastikas?” except of course you did. What a bizarre way to spend one’s free time.

  • Lauren Bertrand

    Sure did. You see, I’m not sufficiently intellectually frangible to go to pieces from a naughty little symbol. It someone had spraypainted “black power” or “kill YT” it would have still been vandalism, but ideologically consistent vandalism. (Then again, it’s easy to make the argument that a swastika is ideologically consistent with the content of the mural as well…)

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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.

Black Panther Movement Figures on Crenshaw’s Great Wall Defaced with Swastikas

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Earlier today, Jasmyne Cannick alerted the South Central community to the swastikas defacing the “Our Mighty Contribution” mural gracing Crenshaw’s 7800-foot-long Great Wall. Vandals deface Black Panther mural on Crenshaw Blvd. in #SouthLA with swastikas. https://t.co/UH3NXO4TkF — Jasmyne Cannick (@Jasmyne) November 29, 2018 Even as she lamented the hate crime, hateful comments were popping up […]