As you cruise down the portion of Crenshaw Boulevard that traverses South Los Angeles from Stocker Street all the way down to Slauson Avenue, you can see murals honoring black history and culture on the walls. Everyone from Malcolm X to Martin Luther King Jr. is represented in visual form for all to see.
The murals are part of Los Angeles’s cultural history and, for the most part, they are respected and have gone untouched—that is until Thursday.
Sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, vandals attacked the two-block long mural titled “Our Mighty Contribution,” which depicts, among others, four women leaders of the Black Panther Party. The mural is located near Crenshaw High School. A swastika was drawn over the face of each of the four women in the mural.
LAPD Officer Jeff Lee told KTLA the vandalism is being investigated as a possible hate crime. No arrests have been made as of yet.
Enkone Goodlow, the artist who painted that portion of the mural, immediately painted over the swastikas as soon as he heard what happened.
Goodlow told CNN: “I was hurt because that portion of the mural has never been defaced.”
Goodlow said his inspiration for the mural was a photo of former Black Panther Leader Kathleen Cleaver. He told CNN he felt terrible about what happened because he believes the Black Panthers were highly misunderstood.
“A lot of people thought that they were a hate group, and that they had a disdain hate for whites,” Goodlow said. “The only thing that the Black Panthers had problems with, was hate itself.”
“So someone who has hate in their heart would come and put hate going across their face,” he added.
Congresswoman and newly-elected Congressional Black Caucus chair Karen Bass took to her Twitter account to denounce the vandalism.
“When people think of racism like this, they think about some far-off time in some far-off land,” Bass wrote. “But this is today, in South Los Angeles, on Crenshaw. These are swastikas on Black faces. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”
Jasmyne Cannick is a political consultant who told the Los Angeles Times that she immediately contacted LAPD Chief Michel Moore after she was alerted to the vandalism.
“People just have always had a lot of respect for that mural and what it represented in the community so even though this is a city like full of graffiti, that mural was usually untouchable,” she said.
Noting the gentrification that is happening all long the black portions of Crenshaw Boulevard, Cannick said: “For a community that already feels like it’s being pushed out, and we have very little left around here. That wall is kind of a big deal.”
That particular part of Crenshaw Boulevard sees heavy foot traffic day and night. There are a lot of businesses in the area, so hopefully a surveillance camera caught something.