Pilsen community outraged over removal of murals

FOX 32 NEWS - Protecting Pilsen’s identity: murals that meant a lot to the people who live there are now gone.

Colorful murals representing Pilsen’s Mexican heritage were painted over.

The building that the murals were on housed the former Casa Aztlan. It shut down about four years ago. It’s now turning into apartments, but what neighbors want to know is why the owner didn’t leave the murals alone.

The Pilsen community is expressing outrage over the removal of these historic murals.

"What used to be a great big door right there, there used to be characters such as Freda,” said Siul Reynoso, Pilsen resident

About 100 people showed up outside the building Tuesday night.

"It's very bad because those murals have been there for over 30 years, but why did they paint over it, I don't know,” said Robert Espinosa, Pilsen resident

Rosa Esquivel with the Pilsen Alliance says they held a vigil, laying down candles and flowers because it feels like somebody died.

"And we wanted to mourn that we lose something important , you know something that has been a part of the culture from the Pilsen community, the Mexican culture,” said Esquivel.

Over the freshly colored gray paint are newly scribbled words, residents expressing anger in Spanish and in English. One reads, “Hashtag Bye Danny.” Some blame Alderman Danny Solis for the murals removal and for not protecting the neighborhood from gentrification.

"There's a lot of realtors buying buildings and making them look more luxurious and kicking the people out,” said Esquivel, Pilsen Alliance.

Even more controversy followed the mural removal. The painting contractor Facebook’d what some say sounded like a Trump reference. “Hashtag “Making Chicago Great Again.”  FOX 32 received a statement from the man who posted it apologizing for anyone who was offended, saying it was not a political reference. “It was rooted in my excitement” to “help repair a historic building in the wonderful community of Pilsen,” said Morris Gershengorin of Real Restoration Group.

Real Restoration Group went on to say the bricks needed a lot of repair. Power washing was necessary. He believes the developer is committed to bringing in local artists to create some new murals.