Elementary students protest mural being blocked by Caltrans over copyrighting

Byby Kate Larsen KGO logo
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Elementary students protest mural being blocked by Caltrans over copyrighting
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Caltrans is refusing to allow some Hoover Elementary School students from painting a mural they've been working on for over a year because Caltrans wants to copyright the mural from the children and organization.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- A group of Hoover Elementary students took to the streets of West Oakland to fight for their right to paint.

The 580 Freeway underpass on West Street Was meant to be covered, in March, with a colorful mural inspired by the students' art. But now Caltrans, which owns the wall, has delayed the project.

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The students were in 3rd grade when they designed the mural and now they're in 4th grade and still hoping the mural gets painted on the underpass before the school year ends in June.

"I'm worried because when the school ends, we won't be able to come together," said Destiny Johnson a Hoover Elementary student.

Johnson helped create one of the characters for the wall, which has been reimagined by a professional artist.

"Fantastic Girl is here she has the power of mind control and super speed, for when there's a criminal, she can run and get them before they do something bad," said Johnson.

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The community superheroes are part of a theme cultivated by non-profit, Attitudinal Healing Connection, which has been working with Caltrans since 2011 to create six underpass murals.

So far three have already been completed with no problems from Caltrans until this year.

"Right now Caltrans legal department has pretty much put a block on production of our 4th mural," said Amana Harris, with Attitudinal Healing Connection

Harris is the Executive Director of AHC and says Caltrans wants exclusive copyright of the mural.

But Harris says the rights aren't theirs to give, since the students, the non-profit, professional artists and others all take part-ownership of the piece.

"It's a very collaborative process and I think that Caltrans understands that and so I don't know why this is a problem," said Harris.

Meanwhile, Destiny Johnson and her classmates will keep the art alive.

A petition was created by the Attitudinal Healing Connection, they're also collecting donations to support the kids.