A mural of remembrance for seven Black men killed by police in Sacramento, California, was painted over by a development company owned by former NBA player Kevin Johnson, Sacramento News and Review reported. The mural was painted on the side of the Guild Theater in Oak Park, a Sacramento neighborhood that has been plagued by gentrification efforts.
Community members sent a letter to St. Hope Development Company complaining about the desecration of the community’s memorial. Community members said each victim’s face was covered with splotches of red paint that looked like blood.
Johnson, the former mayor of Sacramento, founded the St. Hope Development Company and charter school system to revitalize areas of the city hit hardest by racist practices of redlining and the city’s neglect. However, residents say that the newly remodeled apartments are pricing them out of the community they’ve lived in for generations.
St. Hope’s president, Tracy Stigler, played coy. She told Sacramento News that the mural was removed because they didn’t know it was a memorial. However, “#Rest in Power” was painted right about the victims’ heads. Stigler also told reporters that the mural looked like vandalism. She didn’t feel the same way about a nearby supper club covered with a more abstract mural that residents believe was commissioned to cover the neighborhood’s blight and attract more white residents. Beneath that mural, a resident wrote: “Gentrify 101: Make it hip! (Fuck that).”
Black Lives Matter organizers have planned to protest the removal on November 18th.