TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Topeka’s Oakland neighborhood is working to improve their community following acts of vandalism at the Santa Fe Park in June.
The racial slurs, white power slogans, swastikas and expletives against the Black Lives Matter movement have since been removed, but the blank spaces remind the community of what was once there.
“Incredible hate graffiti,” said Topeka City Council woman Christina Valdivia-Alcala.
Now, a group of Oakland community members are wanting to take this unfortunate situation and turn it into a beautiful piece of art. Valdivia-Alcala leads the group called the Tonantzin Society.
“I believe that any kind of art project that can promote healing, and unity and bringing folks together rather than dividing is something that we should be encouraging at this point in time, but at any point,” Valdivia-Alcala said.
Local artists Jamie Colón, Andy Valdivia and Robert Tapley Bustamante will collaborate to create a mural on the outside of the bathrooms located at the park.
On Monday, the Shawnee County Commission approved $1,500 to the artists for supplies to create the mural.
“This is community members that are coming together to turn something very ugly into something beautiful in their neighborhood,” said Shawnee County Commissioner Aaron Mays. “It’s really good to see that.”
The mural will incorporate the history of the neighborhood with promoting peace and togetherness.
“Folks are going to be really surprised, I think that they are going to be delighted that this is coming to the Oakland community,” Valdivia-Alcala said.
The artists are planning to begin work on the mural soon, and plan to have it done in two to three weeks.
They also received a donation from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to pay the artists a small stipend for their work.