“Growing up in the Mission, murals are something sacred. No one touches them because they tell our story, the story of a multicultural community that has held on and even thrived despite difficulties we face,” said community organizer Roberto Y. Hernandez of Our Mission No Eviction. “For someone to come in and deface a mural, that’s a blatant act of hate.”

Hernandez was referencing the vandalism of the beloved mural of musician Carlos Santana at 19th Street and Mission that occurred sometime on July 13. The mural, called “Para La MiSion” was painted by Mel Waters in 2014. “Mel was raised in the Mission, and has black, Latino, and Filipino roots,” Hernandez said. “The mural was meant to give hope to people in the Mission due to the massive gentrification of Latinos and to honor Santana, who was raised int eh Mission District.”

“There’s an unspoken street rule that no one messes with murals,” Hernandez said, “even graffiti taggers know there are places they can and can’t tag. So this is obviously from someone outside the community, and I consider it a hate crime. Splashing white paint right on the face of Santana, on a huge mural that takes up one-third of a block—come on, that’s not a random act.” 

Hernandez said that just Thursday evening, Mission residents were holding a rumba, an improvisational musical celebration in from top the mural. “There were a bunch of musicians jamming to Santana songs, “La Bamba,” fun stuff,” Hernandez said. “It was a community gathering place, and it really feels like an invasion of space to have this happen.”

Waters has been restoring the mural: He came out on Sunday and Monday to repaint the damaged part. “I’m glad he’s doing it,” Hernandez said. “When people come out with hate, we’re coming out with love. That’s part of where Santana himself was coming from, with his part in the hippie movement. We’re angry, but we’re nothing to let that anger turn into hate. We’re not going to let the Mission District be attacked like this, but we need to pray for people who are doing this kind of stuff. These are some sick people who need to heal.”

After the mural is restored, “We’re going to have a big rumba, to celebrate the resilience of the community.”

Hernandez reached out to police to investigate as soon as the vandalism was discovered. In a statement today via email to 48 Hills from SFPD Public Information Officer Robert Rueca said: 

On July 13, 2018 we received a report of a vandalism to a building. The vandalism was done to a ‘Carlos Santana’ mural located on a building located at 19th St. and Mission St. It was reported that the vandalism occurred between July 12, 2018 around 7:00 PM to July 13, 2018 around 9:00 AM. The investigation includes speaking with possible witnesses and gathering evidence such as surveillance video capturing the incident and/or the suspect. This is an open and active investigation. Anyone with information regarding this incident is ask to speak with the police at 415-575-4444 or Text a Tip at TIP411 and start the tip with SFPD. You may remain anonymous.