East Austin residents frustrated no update on what will replace whitewashed mural

Some residents near 12th and Chicon streets are upset after an elaborate mural honoring musicians like Prince, Tupac and Michael Jackson was painted over. (CBS Austin)

Thursday, East Austin business owners met with residents in an attempt to smooth things over. This comes a couple of weeks after a mural depicting famous black musicians was unexpectedly painted over.

Since the mural was painted over on May 12, messages like "whitewashed" have popped up on the white wall in a historic black East Austin neighborhood.

"I see a lot of hate here, but it can be better," said resident Deb Zapata.

Zapata said angry conversations have been taking place on the corner of 12th and Chicon streets where an elaborate mural honoring musicians like Prince, Tupac and Michael Jackson was painted over.

"It shocked me because I knew it meant something to the neighborhood," Zapata said.

New tenants, Las Cruxes, painted over it earlier this month and many people say it's just another example of gentrification, including the artist who said he was never notified.

"It's a community with a rich history that's been displaced and the painting of that mural, in particular white of all colors, was just a smack in the face," Chris Rogers said

New business owner Veronica Ortuno apologized for not consulting the community first.

"This problem was caused by haste and a lack of communication so I've given this serious time and consideration and have been seeking wisdom and guidance from as much of the community as we could reach," Ortuno said.

Thursday a crowd of people gathered at the East 12th Street Merchants meeting hoping to find out what will don the wall next.

"I just want to paint you know," said Rogers. But after the meeting, Rogers told CBS Austin he didn't get answers he hoped for.

"It's starting to feel like the run around a little bit. I could be wrong, but in my mind it could be far simpler. If they want me to paint it, let me paint it," Rogers said.

Ortuno said they've given Six Square, a group dedicated to preserving the African-American heritage of East Austin full stewardship of the wall, but what will go there won't be decided until they get input from the community.

"The heart and soul has been gutted out and it's real sad," said Anita Quintanilla.

Quintanilla said while frustration with the white wall remains, she finds hope that this conversation will bring the issues that have been covered up back to the surface.

"Because of the outrage from people and publicity that it's bringing, people are learning about gentrification and what's happening in East Austin," Quintanilla.

A community meeting on the new mural Is expected next week, but a date has not been set.

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