SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A political fight is brewing in San Francisco’s Tenderlion district over murals.
The paintings in question are in an area known as Veterans Alley. Now, the artist may not be able to stop his murals from being painted over.
“It’s a mural project that I started back in 2011,” said muralist Amos Gregory, who began partnering with local veterans to give them a canvas to tell their story six years ago.
Gregory, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, works with a number of homeless veterans in the Tenderloin and thought that’s exactly where they should tell their story.
“It’s a healing project because you have so many different vets that come out and establish the messaging of the project by telling our own stories,” Gregory said.
What started as a welcome mural project, has turned into a back alley fight.
Under the law, Gregory is required to obtain permission from the building owners to paint on their buildings. Gregory states that he obtained permission from all but one, and that the owners have looked the other way regarding the project until recently when his work took on a different tone.
“I did a mural last year that depicted a police killing,” he said.
He had to paint over it because businesses didn’t like it.
When we reminded him that it’s the businesses call what goes on their walls, he said, “…I thought they would do that five years ago when we started the project.”
For now, several businesses are saying he can’t paint there.
Gregory calls it censorship and hopes they can come to an agreement where he’s free to paint and they aren’t offended.
“We put our lives on the line for freedom of speech and I think we should be able to express it as we tell you our stories,” Gregory said.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on Feb 7, 2018.