SAN FRANCISCSO (CBS SF) – A battle over a rock and an art space ended in an apology and a promise on Tuesday, after someone — this time a worker on San Francisco’s graffiti abatement crew — painted over a Black Lives Matter mural on a boulder overlooking Bernal Heights, for the fifth time.
“The painting out of the mural was a mistake,” said acting director Alaric Degrafinried in a statement. “To be clear, it was not done in an attempt to silence people’s anger, sadness and frustration over police brutality and institutional racism.”READ MORE: COVID: Vaccine Deadline Looms For San Jose Police; Mayor Says 85% Officers Vaccinated
The big rock on Bernal Hill, aka Bernal Rock, has long been a canvas for murals both bold and benign. When Prince died, it was painted purple; once it was even painted to resemble a poop emoji. Since the recent protests over the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of the police, artists have covered the rock with messages and symbols of racial justice, names of victims, and the words ‘Black Lives Matter.’
Not everyone agrees, though. On at least four occasions, the Black Lives Matter mural disappeared overnight. Each time, the artists repainted their message, only to have them painted over again.
According to KCBS, someone saw a woman spray painting the rock early Monday morning, before sunup. When they asked her why, she said she didn’t want anything political.
On Tuesday, in response to 311 complaints about the so-called “graffiti at Bernal Heights Blvd.,” a public works crew member painted over the Black Lives Matter message for yet a fifth time.
Degrafinried called the erasure an “unfortunate mistake that never should have happened.”
“To be clear, it was not done in an attempt to silence people’s anger, sadness and frustration over police brutality and institutional racism,” said Digrafinreid. “I have reached out to the person who painted the mural to offer my sincere apology assurance that we would not be removing her work from the boulder again.”READ MORE: Concerns At Mineta San Jose International Airport After Man Drives Into Secure Area
Artist Kseniya Makarova painted the original message, last week. It disappeared overnight.
“Basically every night someone comes out and points over the Black Lives Matter message and the memorials,” she said.
But Makarova says Tuesday morning was different because the mural survived the night. But after a few hours, she got a text saying the city worker had repainted the vivid boulder, a flat grey.
Makarova has lived in Bernal Heights for more than 20 years and seen the rock painted time and time again but says this is the first time the city has ever repainted the boulder.
“It is very clear that they were here because people complained about the Black Lives Matter message, and we know for a fact that the people covering this up do not like the Black Lives Matter message prominently displayed in this community,” she says.
Makarova and other artists spent Tuesday afternoon repainting the rock, yet again.
“We’re committed to repainting the rock as long as it’s having a greater impact. Our goal is to bring attention to the greater cause and to have people to starting taking action within their own lives to uplift communities of color, to help protect black lives,” she said.MORE NEWS: Sonoma Co. Wildlife Refuge Asks Public's Help To Rescue Cubs Orphaned By Caldor Fire
As of Tuesday, it is unknown whether the battle over Bernal Rock will continue, with more Black Lives Matter messages the boulder disappearing overnight, but if so, it could last a while because along with the apology, Public Works has offered to buy the artists more paint.