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San Jose Community Fights To Restore Painted-Over Chicano Mural

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- The fallout from the erasure of a Chicano history mural in East San Jose is taking a new twist. The owners of the building, who ordered the mural painted over, just surrounded the building with security fencing.

The move came just days after a peaceful protest held at the site by community members hoping to have the mural restored.

"This is an example of gentrification at its ugliest," said Daniel Osorio, who is part of a group trying to restore the mural. "You see a wall that's been built to really try and keep the community away from the wall we're trying to protect."

"El Mural de la Raza" was painted in 1985 by muralist Jose Meza Velasquez depicting 500 years of Chicano history. It stood as a neighborhood icon and was practically undisturbed for decades
until last summer, when it was mysteriously painted over when the building was sold.

On March 24th, community members held the rally in front of the wall to generate support for restoring the mural. But days later, the owner installed surveillance cameras and erected the fencing.

"With the barrier, honestly, it just feels like it's creating more of a divide," said Adrian Mendez, who grew up in the neighborhood near Story and King Roads.

"It doesn't feel like a coincidence. It feels like we're being pushed out of our homes, that's what it feels like, our neighborhoods," Mendez said.

The building is owned by a local dentist, who also owns a building on Alum Rock Avenue, on which another Chicano mural was erased five years ago. The dentist reportedly settled with the artist in that case and faces a $5 million lawsuit for the removal of the latest mural.

She did not respond to a KPIX email request for comment.

"In public education, they don't teach a lot of our history in  history books," said Miguel Saucedo, a member of a recently formed group called El Comite, which aims to preserve 14 other Chicano murals around San Jose.

"Murals on a wall is a way for young people to see their culture and understand where they come from and who they are," Saucedo said.

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