School mural depicting Trump’s bloody, severed head sparks controversy
A Chula Vista school mural that depicts the bloody, severed head of President Trump on a spear sparked a controversy that prompted officials to cover it and issue a response distancing themselves from the work.
The statement also said the artist will alter the painting.
“We understand that there was a mural painted at the event this past weekend that does not align with our school’s philosophy of non-violence,” read the statement from MAAC Community Charter School director Tommy Ramirez. “We have been in communication with the artist — who has agreed to modify the artwork — to better align with the school’s philosophy.”
The event Ramirez referred to was the annual Battlegroundz, a scholarship fundraiser held during the last weekend of April.
During the fundraiser, students and invited artists paint murals that highlight urban art in an alley behind the school.
Francia Baluca, marketing and communications manager for MAAC, the nonprofit that oversees the school, said officials were looking into questions raised about the mural, including whether anyone knew of its content before it was painted and when school officials first became aware of it.
After receiving complaints about the mural from the community and coverage about it from KUSI, the school had covered it with black plastic by Wednesday. On Friday, it appeared to be covered by plywood, with a vehicle parked in front of it.
Baluca said Battlegroundz attracts amateur and professional artists from around the world. Artist Sasha Andrade painted the part of the mural with Trump. She could not be reached Friday.
The mural depicts three warriors, each with different types of dress. One appears to be holding a human heart, and another wears a leopard headdress and is holding a spear. At its end is the severed head of Trump, with the spear’s tip protruding from his mouth.
While school officials said Andrade has agreed to change the painting, she was defiant and proud of it on a Facebook post earlier this week.
Her Facebook banner is a picture of her painting the mural, and on Wednesday she posted a photo of the mural with the message, “They can try to #censor it but here it is guys!!!!” Hashtags in the message included “#urwelcome” and “#freedomofexpression.”
She noted in one post that comedian George Lopez had liked her Instagram post of the mural, and she signed her message with “#firstamendment.”
She also has her share of detractors. On Twitter, a woman who goes by “Adorable Deplorable” called on the Secret Service to arrest Andrade for threatening the president.
The school is open to all San Diego County students 14-24 years old and is chartered by Sweetwater Union High School District. It serves 300 students.
Manny Rubio, public information officer at the district, said his office had received many calls about the mural, including from people out of state, but said MAAC Charter is independently run and not governed by the district’s board of trustees.
“Obviously there’s a lot of concern over what is depicted,” he said. “Because of that, they’re going to rework it. Our ultimate goal is that instruction continues and is not interrupted.”
The school was founded in 2001 by MAAC, or Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on Anti-Poverty of San Diego County, Inc.
“Our school has a focus on critical thinking; our students learn their academic curriculum by examining current issues,” read the statement issued by the school this week. “We expect that this, and other murals, will give cause for conversation among our student population and are ready to help them reflect on it and formulate their own opinions about its message and implications.”
Warth writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.
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