Activists in San Jose demanding beloved mural be restored on the anniversary of its removal

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- About a dozen community organizers and local activists shut down a dental office in San Jose, demanding that the murals that once graced the building and another building, both within two miles from each other be restored.

They are gathering on the one year anniversary of the removal of one of the murals-- Mural De La Raza on Story Road.

The buildings are owned by the same person Dr. Suong Le.

"I would gladly sit down with Suong Le. I sure would love to sit down with her," said community organizer Jose Valle.

The artist-- Jose Meza Velasquez painted Mural De La Raza more than 30 years ago. The mural is a beloved piece of art in the community.

"It drove me for, like, ambition," said Matthew Chavez, a young person living in the neighborhood.

That's what the community organizers argue, that the murals were meant to honor the achievements and ambitions of Chicano people.

The mural on the dental office called "Mexicatlan" was painted over in 2014. Under California Law-- property owners must notify artists before painting over their work. A lawsuit was filed against Dr. Le and the company that sold her the building. It was eventually settled out of court but a new complaint filed early this year by Velasquez and his lawyers is demanding that the artist get access to restore Mural De La Raza.

"I realized how quick, a few hours of paint can go over hundreds of hours of energy and community gathering. And it really did send a shockwave through my body," said Carlos Rodriguez, a local muralist.

The community was up in arms when Mural De La Raza was painted over last year, seemingly without notice or explanation. These activists are encouraging the neighborhood to boycott this dental office until the murals are restored.

"We call it our mural because in no way are we the artist but we are the community. And the title is Mural De La Raze or Mural of the people and we are the people here in San Jose and we want to get back what's ours," said Valle.
Copyright © 2019 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.