'No police report, no crime.' Anti-Biden mural at Palm Springs graffiti yard altered with new paint
A vulgar mural criticizing President Joe Biden in large, colorful letters at downtown Palm Springs' official Graffiti Yard appeared on Saturday, and was painted over on Sunday by the co-chairperson of the city's art commission.
"Yes, I was alerted to the graffiti late this morning, so I hopped in my little car with my little bag of paints and headed down there," Palm Springs Arts Commissioner Russell Pritchard said. He originally intended to just spray over the offensive word, but looking at it more closely, he realized, "I've got enough paint that I can make an adjustment."
By midday Sunday, he had covered over the top portion with an entirely different sentiment. Instead of "F--- Biden" it reads, "Luv U Biden." The broad brush strokes of the original four letter message, ending in "K," were still faintly visible underneath. He capitalized on the existing "U" in painting "Luv."
He said the entire mural would be repainted within a few days with a completely apolitical image.
Pritchard, who keeps an eagle eye on public arts projects around town to make sure they are properly permitted, said no crime had been committed at the Graffiti Yard with the original message, nor did that tagger or he need a permit to paint there.
"No police report, no crime," he said.
The public painting spot is in downtown Palm Springs, located diagonally across from the controversial "Forever Marilyn" statue and across from the Kimpton Rowan hotel. It was created in 2017, after plans for a hotel at the site fell through.
Pritchard, a longtime public arts activist and semi-retired designer, said he had pushed for the vacant land to be turned into a place where painters can express themselves. He got permission from owner Michael Braun, he said. Grant funds were raised and artists were hired to do the first pieces, but work there is not subject to a city mural ordinance.
"It's temporary art that's more organic in nature. Other street artists come along and re-interpret a part. It's ever-changing," he said of the inscriptions.
But the freedom of expression is not absolute.
"As we do with all our public arts programs and events programs, we always monitor them. As soon as we are notified of something objectionable, we rectify it."
He said curses and political insults are objectionable, and if Saturday' scrawl had aimed invective at Trump instead of Biden, that also would have been inappropriate.
"We should not say that about anyone, no matter who they are," he said. "We are a peaceful and loving people in Palm Springs."
This isn't the first time he and other painters had to spring into action.
"There was a pair of fornicating bunnies painted one time," he recalled. "I don't think it had anything to do with Easter."
Desert Sun staff writer Amanda Ulrich contributed to this story.