Hermosa mural destroyed during graffiti removal, neighbors outraged

An ABC7 Eyewitness News Exclusive
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A graffiti-removal effort went too far, resulting in the destruction of a beloved mural in Chicago's Hermosa neighborhood. Now people in the neighborhood are demanding an explanation.

The mural was a homage to Puerto Rican culture in the neighborhood, and was titled "Es Tiempo De Recordar" or "It's Time To Remember."

Now it is just a memory.

"I was shocked, and disappointed, and pretty angry about it," said Sandra Antongiori, mural artist.

Antongiori was one of three artists who painted the mural in 1992, with input from the community. For 25 years it was at Pulaski and Bloomingdale. It was seen, untouched, on Google Street View as recently as October, but it was recently vandalized with writing.

And so two weeks ago the city's graffiti blasters turned the neighborhood fixture into a canvas of white.

"That was public art, and if there was gang writing we should have been aware. We should have been alerted, so we could repair it and restore it," said John Vergara, mural restorer.

"It feels like, you know, a part of our culture, a part of our history, a part of our art... they're expendable," Antongiori said.

In a statement the city said the mural was removed in error and said, in part, "We recognize the importance of public art and remain committed to working with residents and communities to ensure that murals in the City are protected..."

"The community should be consulted. The artist should be consulted. Aldermen should be consulted. This shouldn't happen," said Antongiori.

A Department of Streets and Sanitation spokesperson said crews have been reminded that any graffiti removal involving public art must first be reviewed by a manager.
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