Murals marking DACA’s anniversary vandalized at Denver Public Library branches

Murals celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have been vandalized at two branches of the Denver Public Library.

In early June, murals marking the tenth anniversary of the DACA policy were installed at DPL Virginia Village, Schlessman Family, Eugene Field and Valdez-Perry branches, as well as around Boulder. Created by artist Edica Pacha, they are part of Motus Theatre’s UndocuAmerica Monologues project, which “aims to interrupt dehumanizing portrayals of immigrants by encouraging thoughtful engagement about the challenges facing the undocumented community and the assets immigrants bring to our country,” according to the Boulder organization website.

When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, Kirsten Wilson, artistic director of Motus, decided to develop the UndocuAmerica series, with undocumented immigrants recounting their experiences in monologues at regular theater nights.

Click to enlarge This mural at the Eugene Field branch was torn in half this week.  - SPECIAL IN WESTWORD

This mural at the Eugene Field branch was torn in half this week.

Special for Westword

The murals, which were funded by Denver Arts and Venues through a PS You Are Here grant, were designed to bring more recognition and awareness to what it means to be undocumented in the United States. Each mural is a photograph of an undocumented person in Colorado; a QR code opens a story about that person and their undocumented experience.

“When we were first approached by artist Edica Pacha about the possibility of having murals featuring undocumented leaders, we were really excited about the mural,” says Armando Peniche, Head of partnerships and projects at Motus.” I hope the impact of having these murals outside of libraries is measured by inspiration and understanding. I’m actually one of the people on the murals, and one of my goals is that our undocumented youth and BIPOC people can see my image and be inspired to see a former DACA recipient with a beautiful brown skin featured on a mural.”

The murals were unveiled in time for DACA’s tenth anniversary on June 15. But the QR code on the mural in the Eugene Field branch library was torn off almost immediately, according to Olivia Gallegos, communications manager for the Denver Public Library, and half of the mural was completely torn off a few days later. late. Part of the Virginia Village mural was also torn off; the artist replaced it.

“Making political art can run into some uncomfortable conversations, and some people just have points of view that don’t agree with what’s being shared. They’ll destroy what they don’t understand,” says Pasha. “That’s why I continue to make art around these themes – to challenge the status quo…to educate the wider community and bring greater perspective to these difficult issues.”

According to a library worker, shortly after the murals were put up, the branch received a call from someone complaining that they “don’t think it’s right for the public to support undocumented people”. .

“As welcoming spaces where everyone is free to explore and connect, the Denver Public Library is proud to support our undocumented and immigrant neighbors,” said Michelle Jeske, City Librarian at the Denver Public Library, in a press release. Westword. “The beautiful murals at four of our branches celebrate DACA’s tenth anniversary, and we are honored to be home to these beautiful murals that feature the faces and stories of members of our community.”

The vandal’s actions “do not represent the values ​​of the library or our community at large,” she adds. “We have received a lot of positive feedback from the community regarding the murals and what they represent. We remain committed to sharing stories and showcasing members of our community.”

Gallegos says the branches have filed incident reports with their security teams and the Eugene Field mural will be repaired by the artist on Friday.

“The reality is that the people at the front of the immigration movement are used to these kinds of attacks,” concludes Peniche. “I wish whoever did this would take the time to have a conversation with me to understand what it really means to be undocumented, and all the challenges that come with it. It’s easy to vandalize a mural and trying to tear apart a person’s humanity, but it’s more rewarding to pause and breathe and listen to the story of someone who’s had a different life journey than yours.”

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