Vandals paint swastikas on immigration mural, hit 2nd time

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WICHITA, Kan. -- In the heart of a Latino community in North Wichita, people are frustrated by a recent act of vandalism.

"Disgusting. Disgusting. Mad that it happened again," said Joanne Velez.

Velez is owner of Park Place Shop, near West 21st and Park Place, where the mural is located. Some time between Monday night and early Tuesday morning, Velez said someone painted two swastikas on the mural, which has a painting celebrating immigration.

"That mural right there is the first one that they done, so I was like so honored to have this building with that mural on it and for it to have to go through so much. It's just crazy."

Vandals hit the mural last month, writing KKK, anti-gay and other derogatory messages.

"My concern is if there is some anti-Semitic activity happening in Wichita," said artist Armando Minjarez, co-founder of Seed House, which helped coordinate the project.

Minjarez said it's possibly a hate crime and believes it's increasing. This past week, a person spray painted "Kill all Jews" on a building in South Wichita. He believes it's all connected.

"I think it's the same person because it's the same handwriting, it seems like maybe it's one or a few individuals doing it," he said.

The mural is a project created by South High School students, who have been personally touched by immigration issues, Minjarez said. Soon, local artists will come together to restore the mural and their message.

"We believe in unity, that we want to elevate the dignity of people, that we want to continue to express our culture through creative collaborations with the community and artists," he said. "Kansas is a place of perseverance, where people can work hard to make this place home and they are connected to their neighbors and they are welcoming of immigrants and welcoming of all kinds of people from different walks of life."


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