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Mural Honoring Innocent Gang Violence Victims Unveiled In Pilsen

Pilsen Mural

A mural honoring innocent victims of gang violence has been unveiled at 18th and Paulina streets in Pilsen. (Credit: Steve Miller/WBBM Newsradio/CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Despite the rain Thursday, the Pilsen community turned out to unveil a mural dedicated to peace and tolerance — a mural the artists say has been defaced twice already.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports, the mural at 18th and Paulina streets was designed by young artists in Pilsen, such as 16-year-old Elizabeth Oceguera, who says not everybody who passed by during their six weeks of work was pleased with the project.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports

“We just got a lot of comments saying, ‘Oh this is stupid,’ it’s not going to make a difference,” Oceguera said. “It was really a challenge to deal with it because it was such a personal blow.”

Pilsen Mural

Three of the young Pilsen artists with their mural: Lizette Guerrero, 16; Elizabeth Oceguera, 16; and Rosellin Molina, 15. (Credit: Steve Miller/WBBM Newsradio/CBS)

Jeff Abbey Maldonado was the lead artist, and he says the mural was defaced twice while being created.

He is the father of Jeff Maldonado Jr., a budding hip-hop artist killed two summers ago at the age of 19.

“Not only have gangs taken my son’s life, but now they’re also defacing art that belongs to the community,” Maldonado said.

The face of Jeff Maldonado Jr. is the focus of the mural, with a gold record in the background.

His father suspects the vandalism to the mural was the work of gangs.

“I suspected that it’s probably gang-related,” Jeff Abbey Maldonado said. “A friend of mine had said it best, that when people see somebody brought up, they like to knock them down.”

A Twitter picture in August showed gray paint splashed in the young man’s face in the mural.

Maldonado says it was a personal blow to him and to all the young people in Pilsen who painted the mural.

“In a sense it was like a call for the community to step up and really take ownership of the wall,” he said.

The mural is located on the Paulina Street side of the Family Dollar store at 1700 W. 18th St. Under the image of Jeff Maldonado Jr., it says, “Dedicated to the innocent victims of gang violence.”