Highland Park

Artist Has Message for Vandal Who Defaced Mural

The artist behind a defaced MLK mural pledges to continue painting Black heroes over the vandalism.

NBC Universal, Inc.

The owners of a popular Highland Park café were heartbroken after someone defaced their mural honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The mural, painted by well-known artist Tristan Eaton, appeared on York Boulevard on the side of Café de Leche.

Yesterday morning, the mural was vandalized. A security camera caught a woman rolling white paint over King’s face, then changing her clothes as a car pulled up to meet her. She also painted racial slurs.

Eaton's disappointment fueled his determination to send a message right back to the woman.

"They can paint over it as many times as they want. We're going to paint right back over it," he told NBC4. 

True to his words, Eaton repainted the wall with an image of Malcolm X.

"I love painting and right now, art can be a very powerful vehicle for a message," he said.

Café de Leche's owner, Anya Schodorf, says that she was honored to provide a canvas for the Black Lives Matter movement.

"We stand against any racism," Schodorf said. "We stand against violence."

The café has filed a police report and turned the security footage in.

Eaton says he's keeping out of the investigation, but if the woman returns, so will he.

"I can paint for weeks," he said. "This is what I love doing. After Malcolm X, it's going to be Angela Davis. After that it's going to be James Baldwin, then Obama, then Muhammad Ali."

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