Artist finds pro-Palestinian mural vandalized for 6th time

A San Francisco artist is frustrated and angry after his pro-Palestinian mural was vandalized Sunday.

Muralist and cultural activist Chris Gazaleh said it’s not the first time his work has been vandalized since he painted the mural on his friend’s building in Noe Valley about five months ago.

The latest defacement caught on a security camera is just another incident displaying how the war in the Middle East is contributing to tensions here at home.

He said the mural stands as a reminder of the families who have been killed in Gaza. "We are pro-people. We want humans to have freedom."

The mural includes an image of a family surrounded by debris and blood, with bombs labeled "Lockheed Martin" and "Boeing" and "Made in $ USA." Atop the painting in bold white letters, it reads "Stop the genocide in Gaza now!"

"It was painted to raise awareness about what's happening. It was painted just at the beginning of the genocide in Palestine," he said. "I put up companies that have been profiteering from the war on Gaza."


Berkeley author Ayelet Waldman arrested, later released, in Israel: video

Ayelet Waldman, a well-known Berkeley author, was arrested by Israeli police at the Erez Crossing — the border between Israel and Gaza — while protesting the war with a group of American rabbis during Passover.

On Monday, after what he said was the sixth time it had been vandalized, he shared his disappointment.

"Yeah, it hurts to see it get vandalized, but it’s nothing compared to the pain that my people are going through in Gaza," he said.

He said it’s happened so many times, the owner of the building installed security cameras.

This time, they caught the person in the act in a video showing what appears to be a woman writing over the mural.

In the video, she is heard saying, "San Francisco’s the worst. It’s so disgusting."

The scribble on the wall reads, "Bring back our hostages."

Georgia Dominici, a hairstylist who works next door, said she watched it happen.

"I was just sitting on my break and I saw this woman come by with a sharpie, and she was writing, and I wasn’t sure if she was part of the [art] team," said Dominici. 

"She destroyed it without any hesitation in broad daylight," said Gazaleh. 

He shared images of a previous incident, which depicted a man using a paint roller to cover the words and the images in the mural. In another incident, someone painted over the mural, adding the words "by Hamas" in red paint. 

People in the community said they aren’t surprised it keeps happening.

"We’re so divided over here, who the hell are we to tell other people to get it together?" said Mary O’Grady, who lives nearby.

Another neighbor, Stephen Glynn said, "The polarization is well baked in at this point and things like this are only going to exacerbate it."

Brittany Ward, who works at a neighboring business, said, "It’s been kind of interesting to see how much people have in common, but when it comes to this issue, there’s such a huge divide."

While some folks disagree on the message of the mural, almost everyone agrees vandalism is not the answer. 

"If I were completely, say, pro-what that message is, I still might not put it up," said a man walking by named Dave. "I’m against anybody doing wrong to anybody."

"I like to leave art the way it is because everyone’s trying to say their own thing," said Dominici.

"There’s got to be open conversation, and it’s such a shame to see those things done in this way, in such a disrespectful way," said Ward.

Gazaleh plans to repaint it next week, but people in the neighborhood said it’ll probably be vandalized again, until the issues in the Middle East are resolved.

Gazaleh said he thinks a different person is responsible for each incident of vandalism. He said the incidents have been reported to police, but SFPD did not immediately respond to our inquiry.