President Obama: Yes, You Can Stop Deportations (VIDEO)

Before you jump to some Beltway conclusions being shared by Obama apologists that the push for stopping record deportations is limited to just a bunch of “radicals,” here is a video for your consideration:

By the way, it’s not just “radicals” like NDLON that are presenting this platform, just read what the “radical” Sen. Bob Menendez and his fellow “radical” Sen. Dick Durbin had to say about it.

Menendez: ““While we continue waiting for the House of Representatives to wake up and move on immigration reform legislation, I urge the president to take action today and halt needless deportations that are splitting apart our families and communities The current deportation apparatus is an outrage, and it’s a tragedy.”

Durbin: “If we’re dealing with strictly technical violations of immigration law, I don’t believe they should be deported. If there’s a criminal record, it’s totally different.”

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By the way, here is what the President said about all this:

But Mr. Obama called himself the “champion-in-chief of comprehensive immigration reform and said he has done all he can to reduce deportations without a change in the law. What is still happening comes back to Congress, he said.

“I cannot ignore those laws any more than I could ignore any of the other laws that are on the books. That’s why it’s so important for us to get comprehensive immigration reform done this year,” he said.

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“The Org” by Undeportable Productions: A Comedy About an Undocumented Student Organization

Wait, a fictional comedy video about an undocumented student organization? Yeah, that is what we said: a fictional comedy video about an undocumented student organization.

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Here is the first episode of Undeportable Productions’ “The Org.”

More episodes will be up on DreamTV soon. Subscribe to them on YouTube. Also give the group a like on Facebook.

Immigration Activists Applaud NCLR Leader’s “Deporter-in-Chief” Obama Comments

An article published today in Politico contained the following comment by Janet Murguía, the head of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), one of President Obama’s closest U.S. Latino political allies:

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President Barack Obama has lost the nation’s largest Latino advocacy organization.

The National Council of La Raza is set to declare Obama “the deporter-in-chief” and demand that he take unilateral action to stop deportations.

NCLR, the nation’s largest Latino advocacy organization, had been the last significant progressive grass-roots immigration-reform organization publicly defending the White House immigration stance. NCLR President Janet Murguía will on Tuesday night demand Obama put a halt to his administration’s deportations.

“For the president, I think his legacy is at stake here,” Murguía said in an interview in advance of NCLR’s annual Capital Awards dinner, where she will deliver a speech lambasting Obama’s deportation policy. “We consider him the deportation president, or the deporter-in-chief.”

As you might imagine, there is buzz today in the immigration activist community, since NCLR was one of the last groups out there overlooking the President’s record deportation numbers as he and Congress continue to play an immigration reform game that has lost momentum.

Looks like NCLR finally paid attention to what most U.S. Latinos already know: President Obama could do more to stop the deportations and separate families.

Here is just a sampling of reactions to the Murguía’s comments:

Interestingly enough, NCLR also tweeted out the POLITICO story, but focused on the first part of Murguía’s quote and not the second part:

Our own Twitter account had a debate about the news:

That last tweet says it all. In the end, the GOP is not that into immigration reform. The President should know that a large part of the base that got him elected and which NCLR helped to mobilize is down with the back and forth. It’s time to act, Mr. President. Lead. Don’t play tentative politics on this one.

As for NCLR, one FB fan said it bes, “It’s an indication how out of touch they [NCLR] are with their roots and constituency.”

It sure took a long time for NCLR to finally admit what everyone else knew. Good.

Dehumanizing the Border

On the eve of World War II, the Nazis began to describe the European Jews as “Untermenschen.” The word literally means “subhumans”—a creature that resembles a person, but is nevertheless a bestial humanoid aberration.

This was a way to dehumanize them in preparation for a statewide programm of mass extermination. Since the Holocaust, scholars have recognized the process of dehumanization as a central part of genocidal campaigns, one that erases the moral dilemmas normally associated with hurting others by sanding down innate empathic capacities.

In any campaign of hatred, dehumanization is not the final endpoint; rather, it is a milestone that must be reached in order to enable a desired degree of violence. Dehumanization doesn’t always end in ethnic cleansing. It can take other forms, which, while they may be less extreme, are equally sordid, like teaching children how to shoot at effigies of people who are different from them.

At a community event to honor fallen agents in San Diego last year, the local Customs and Border Patrol outfit facilitated an activity in which children were given less-than-lethal rifles and shotguns and instructed by agents on how to fire at cut-out targets resembling adolescent migrants. One of the targets is even wearing a “Tapout” t-shirt, a common article of clothing donned by young people on either side of the border. In one of the images, a youth seems to be aiming his gun at the target’s head.

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For its part, CBP San Diego absurdly justified the event as a part of a community-wide expo meant to “build relationships and increase awareness about law enforcement.” The agency has reportedly claimed that they will continue to host the event in the future, but will use neutral targets to assuage public outrage.

It’s bad enough that the CBP fails to connect the dots between its showy display of mock violence and the renewed controversy in the media over its agents’ slaying of migrants. But even worse, the fact that CBP defended the activity as a community-building event indicates they see an aggressive disdain for migrants as a way to strengthen communal bonds. United in dehumanization we stand.

Activist Pedro Ríos of the American Friends Service Committee said that the incident is indicative of how border communities have become areas of low intensity conflict, where the specter of violence is something expected and even sanctioned. “When violence becomes normalized to the extent that civil society stops questioning it, you stop seeing how wrong it is,” he said. He mentions how the Border Patrol in San Diego possess a coveted space as leaders in the community, even visiting elementary schools to hand out good citizenship awards. “Could be that one day, a Border Patrol agent gives out a [citizenship] certificate to a kid, while next day he might be involved in a beating?”

Since 2004, the number of Border Patrol agents has doubled, and with such a rapid expansion the quality of recruits has suffered. Agents with less training are more likely to employ crude means of handling people they view as problematic. At least twenty unarmed have been shot and killed along the border by the Border Patrol since 2010, some of them in the back. None of the agents implicated in the murders have faced any form of retribution.

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Green shirts are even allowed to fire on migrants who throw rocks at them, whereas such excessive retaliation would be completely reprehensible if committed by a domestic law enforcement group. There is a reason for this discrepancy: Migrants are viewed as less than human. Instead, they are imagined as desperate, free-moving hordes infiltrating from a strange land, shouting and chattering in foreign tongues; subhumans, Untermenschen.

Agents operate in a broader society that automatically presumes the criminality of undocumented people. Their most doltish opponents freely call them “aliens,” but even mainstream sources describe them with the slippery term “illegal.” As if all of that didn’t make it difficult enough to attain value in the eyes of society, undocumented people are mostly relegated to bottom rung jobs with low pay and respectability. Although Americans value hard work, we don’t necessarily value the work of the lower class. We are a nation of aspirers, holding up the livelihoods of the super rich as ideals for which to strive, while giving little consideration—let alone respect—to the men and women who package our food and stich together our clothes.

The subhuman characterization of undocumented people becomes even more dangerous as the prospect of a hyper-militarized border grows inevitable. The immigration bill sitting in Congress would nearly double the number of border patrol agents to 40,000—the size of Serbia’s entire army—and create “the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall,” as Senator John McCain boasted last year. Even if the bill doesn’t end up passing, defense and surveillance corporations have such a vested interest in a dumping their war technology from overseas onto the southern border that any future iteration of the bill will likely look much the same.

It’s in the context of enhanced militarization and an already dehumanized perception of Latin American migrants that the San Diego’s obtuseness about their “community event” is so worrisome. It doesn’t matter their intention; history has shown, again and again, what happens when you simultaneously strip a person of their humanity and promote fatalistic solutions to social problems.

It’s unfortunate that any armed, aggressive agency can rise to such prominent civic stature in a community; but at the very least, the Border Patrol in San Diego and everywhere else could avoid teaching children how to violently dispense with people who are different from them.

Even that might be too much to ask for. Just last week, another unarmed migrant was shot dead across the border from San Diego.

***

Aaron Cantú is a Brooklyn-based journalist @alternet @truthout @thenation. A “revolutionary generalist” who focuses mostly on drug law, criminal justice, and [misc], you can follow Aaron on Twitter @aaronmiguel_ or visit his site: aaronmiguel.com.

Ad Agency Defends UN “Juanito the Illegal Immigrant” Campaign

After asking award-winning ad agency 72 and Sunny for comment about its latest UNHATE “Juanito the Illegal Immigrant” awareness campaign produced in association with the United Nations’ Department of Public Information and Benetton, Latino Rebels received an email response from an agency spokesperson defending the creative and editorial choices made for Juanito 2014:

screenshotJuanito

Thanks for your feedback regarding the Juanito 2014 campaign.

We deliberately chose “illegal” as a more contentious word than “undocumented”. In each of the UNHATE News stories, we are trying to raise awareness for an important cause by using provocative language. We want to generate debate about immigrant rights — on a global scale. We have chosen to use a word easily understood by people who may not previously have engaged with the issue.

On Juanito2014.com, we are explicit that a vote for Juanito is “a vote saying that no human should ever be considered ‘illegal’”. We are passionate about supporting the cause of undocumented immigrants.

The purpose of the UNHATE News campaign is to highlight and amplify the conversation around key social issues. On the website we provide information about the serious problems faced by immigrants all around the world. We wholeheartedly support the stated mission of Latino Rebels, and welcome this dialogue if it helps stoke the debate and elevate the issue.

We did check out the website the spokesperson referred to and this is what it says:

The reason people immigrate usually comes from a simple desire for a better life.

People who leave their home countries risk a lot, at times even their lives, for this simple human right. And although they work immensely hard for it, they are often discriminated against and end up having to work on the black market in dangerous conditions.

While this is a well-documented issue in the United States, and Arizona specifically, immigration is an issue close to each country. In the European Union there were 1.7 million new immigrants in 2011 alone, and around 250,000 specifically in the United Kingdom. Reports from Germany show that their immigrants don’t receive the same welfare benefits as ‘natural born’ citizens.

Join the Juanito campaign at www.juanito2014.com

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So let’s get this one straight: an award-winning ad agency based in LA and Amsterdam is using stereotypical images of an “illegal immigrant” in Arizona hiding behind his hand to raise awareness about immigration in Europe? If that is the case, why didn’t 72 and Sunny do an UNHATE campaign about (wait for it) immigration in Europe? It really had to present bizarrely offensive stereotypes about Mexicans (under the guise of “satire”) to explain its point? By the way, you can read all our reasons why this campaign fails here.

And what about the other questions we have about the campaign: How did Juanito’s Twitter profile get close to 11,000 Twitter followers with just four tweets? Did the United Nations sign off on this campaign? Did Benetton? Does the agency not realize that the images and copy it chose actually do very little to advance the “global” conversation about migrant rights? So using a fake news story about an “illegal” running for Arizona governor is the best choice?

This latest campaign just reflects how lazy 72 and Sunny became with this one topic. Yes, immigration is an important global topic. No, mocking it with dehumanizing stereotypes is not. With all the money this agency has, a poor creative choice was made. Now the agency is defending it in the name of global debate. That’s your answer?

We guess so.

If 72 and Sunny truly believed in the “stated mission of Latino Rebels,” it would do the right thing and start over with this campaign. Can it now. Actually talk with immigrant rights activists who use humor and satire to get to the real issues here and learn from what is a massive and colossal (and costly) mistake. This is not the time to dig your heels, 72 and Sunny. This is the time to do the right thing.

Hey, 72 and Sunny started this conversation by specifically asking us to partner with them on this campaign. We gave them our reasons as to why they failed. How 72 and Sunny finally responds to some serious concerns will reflect their true intentions here.

Agency That Created “Juanito the Illegal Immigrant” UN Campaign Was Named 2013 Agency of Year

As we wait to hear back from 72 and Sunny, the global ad agency responsible for a bizarrely offensive “Juanito the Illegal Immigrant” campaign for a UNHATE program sponsored by Benetton and the United Nations, we failed to mention in our original story that the agency was named Ad Week’s Agency of the Year in 2013.

According the article, some of 72 and Sunny’s clients include Samsung, Target, ESPN, Google and Starbucks. A full list of its executive team is here. Based in Los Angeles (and Amsterdam), let’s just say that the team’s leadership team lacks diversity, but that doesn’t surprise us.

Meanwhile, our community has already begun to weigh in on the campaign.

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As expected, reaction to it hasn’t been positive, to say the least:

And then there is this from our Facebook page: “Wrong in [sic] so many levels.”

We know that these kinds of agencies are trying to “push the envelope” with new ways to generate buzz. The “satire” lacks any depth and the casual use of “illegal immigrant” is beyond troubling. Someone actually paid someone else to create this campaign. This is the United Nations we are talking about. Do we even continue? And even though the UNHATE campaign once did this…

…Juanito 2014 doesn’t even come close.

.

It really doesn’t. We explain why here.

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Sigh.

Real Email Promo Sent by Ad Agency: “Benetton & UN Create Illegal Immigrant Candidate for Governor of Arizona”

This story starts when the main Latino Rebels account received an email from someone at 72andSunny, “a full service, modern communications company, recently named ‘Agency of the Year’ by Advertising Age,” according to the agency’s website. The subject line to the email read: “Benetton & UN Create Illegal Immigrant Candidate for Governor of Arizona.”

At first we all thought it was a joke, but when we opened the email and began to read it, we sadly knew it wasn’t. Here is part of the initial email we received:

Hi there Rebels,

Meet Juanito. He’s a model citizen, he works hard to support his family, he believes in equal rights for everybody and he wants to run for governor. There’s only one little thing—he’s an illegal immigrant.

Juanito’s campaign launches in earnest in Arizona tomorrow. It’s got all the usual facets -

A campaign website: http://juanito2014.com/

A campaign film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoI6tAjLAVc

Even an official twitter feed: https://twitter.com/VoteJuanito2014

We stopped for a second. This COULD NOT be real. So we checked out the video (which already had 111 views):

And the Facebook page (which had zero likes):

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Then we checked out the Twitter page (which had tweeted only four times but had over 10,000 followers):

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What was going on? So we kept reading:

We’ve even got people on the ground spreading lawns signs and bumper stickers.

However, it’s not quite what it seems.

Juanito’s story is part of UNHATE News, an initiative by Benetton’s UNHATE Foundation, sharing news stories that we would like to see. Although primarily about raising awareness, this fantasy could have a very real impact on reality: the project is in association with the United Nations’ Department of Public Information, so voting for Juanito counts – the UN have committed to support initiatives around key social issues like immigration.

When we visited UNHATE News, we were expecting to see similar bizarre campaigns to Juanito 2004, but instead we actually saw some very clever headlines, but with very little content. For example, “US-MEXICO BORDER TURNED INTO GIANT ART CANVAS” or “ARIZONA PRINTS SPECIAL EDITION DOLLARS IN HONOR OF IMMIGRANTS”. We even saw this: “US RELEASES MONUMENT OF DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE IN SPANISH”, which, by the way, we did a few years ago. Also, the UNHATE campaign was genius when it did this.

But Juanito 2014 doesn’t even come close to those ideas. (By the way, the campaign is already live.)

Enjoy this new image:

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And this one:

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So let’s get this straight: the United Nations and Benetton are involved in this campaign? Someone who works for the UN approved this? The United Nations? This is how you try to raise awareness about immigration, with a cheap attempt at bad satire? And ready for the kicker? The agency sent us the email to see if we could partner with them. Our official response?

In all seriousness, if the idea were actually clever, we could see some potential. Yes, using satire and humor is a good choice, but Juanito 2014 fails on so many levels, where do we begin?

We share a few reasons below, besides the most obvious and important one: A campaign approved by the UN and developed by an ad agency has no problem tossing the label “illegal immigrant” when actively promoting a campaign that is supposed to change the narrative about hate, not perpetuate the same stereotypes it wants to eradicate. Does the UN not know that “no human being is illegal?”

Why Juanito 2014 Gets a Huge #NoMames

  1. The guy’s name is “Juanito?” Is he 8 years old?
  2. Oh yeah, Juanito is Mexican. Of course, he is.
  3. Gee, the red, green and white colors are suggesting what? Why not some US of A flags? See point 2.
  4. Hey, the video has silly Mexican-themed music, because you know. See point 2.
  5. The motif of the “worker” immigrant has also become its own caricature of itself. The reality is that there are also many academics, students, and entrepreneurs who are making valuable contributions to the US every day. Immigrants are not all “worker bees.”
  6. What is so funny about “covered faces?” Is Juanito literally “living in the shadows?” Undocupower has inspired people to speak out, and on the same day activists were protesting (again) about record deportations, a hip ad agency with no clear idea about immigration asked us to help them on one of the dumbest campaigns we have ever seen. The undocumented aren’t hiding any longer, so why would Juanito (geez, his name is Juanito) hide his face?
  7. Good satire uses actual intelligence and depth to gets its point across. We cringe at the thought of how this creative session to get to his Juanito campaign evolved. Imagine the convos.
  8. The focus is on the “illegal” language. Yeah, we had to say it again. The campaign, if it truly wanted to raise awareness about immigration, should be taking on the broken system, the wide-spread exploitation and the lack of government action to protect migrants’ human rights, not dehumanizing migrants.

Our founder did write back to the agency, by the way. Here is what he said:

…was the purpose you reached out to us b/c you wanted us to slam this? I know other stories from this campaign and the vast majority of them are so well-done. This one you just shared has left us a bit disappointed and speechless. We don’t know where to start as to how is misses the mark. If we do write about it, we plan to be pretty brutal about how much this campaign does very little to advance the message of immigrant rights and instead relies on some very offensive stereotypes to achieve that. I shared it with our group and the last thing we would want to do is associate our name as a supporter of this campaign, so that is why I ask: did you send this to us because you need publicity, any kind of publicity for this campaign, whether it is negative or positive?

I don’t know where to start about this campaign so unless you are pulling my leg (I kind of wish that you are), we will officially pass. But congratulations on earning a potential #NoMames for this. FYI, I do have a few questions: How did you get so many Twitter followers with just five tweets? Did your agency develop this campaign and who can I speak to for a comment on this? Did the United Nations actually approve this content?

We got a reply saying that it was not the agency’s intention to “cause offence” or “incite criticism for the campaign.” The person from 72 and Sunny who emailed us was just doing his job, and he thought that LR would be a group interested in promoting the campaign. The person who wrote the email offered to get more answers for us.

So our founder wrote back:

If you don’t mind getting some more comment about this specific campaign, that would be great. We will be running a story, and I will be very frank with you: it will not be complimentary. Hopefully someone can answer our questions. There are so many problems with this specific campaign, I don’t know where to start.

Thanks again for responding!

We guess the agency didn’t conduct its due diligence about whom they should have contacted. Here’s hoping they reply to us with more details and even consider: 1) canning the campaign right now and 2) apologizing on behalf of the UN. And Benetton, too. We’re still shaking our heads.

By the way, 72 and Sunny was named Ad Week’s 2013 Agency of the Year. Of course it did.

An #ArmyofArtists in Wichita Rallies Behind an “Immigration is Beautiful” Mural

This is by far our favorite story of 2014 right now, so we’re going to share yet another piece about it. Enjoy.

Immigration is Beautiful from Byron J. Love on Vimeo.

A Chat with Juan, an Undocumented Immigrant Worker (and a DREAMer)

Recently, I met a a young man, about 23 years old or so, and he was doing construction work on our bathroom.

Juan shared that he was here “sin papeles,” which translated means “without papers,” aka undocumented. Juan is one of over 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Juan spoke with me about immigration, life, work, and the opportunities that many take for granted in the United States. At one point during our conversation, Juan even said to me, “I want to become the superintendent for one of these buildings.”

How many people do you know that have such a clearly defined goal? He’s not “stealing” our jobs, he’s not trying to hurt anyone. He wants to continue to earn an honest living, provide for his family and advance his career. Just like you and I do. Why would anyone have a problem with Juan achieving his personal goals? His success doesn’t hurt you in any way.

Juan told me that he has been here a long time—he pays his taxes, he works very hard, (as I witnessed myself) and he’s an honest citizen of this society, albeit an undocumented one. Juan said that he has been offered stolen social security numbers, and stolen identities to get over on the system. However, he refused to take part of these schemes. He wants to do things the right way.

Via America's Voice

Via America’s Voice

As Juan continued to share, he began describing some of his frustrations with the current immigration system. He expressed how he works very long days, full time, overtime, and much more. He said that he always pays his taxes on time, and that he even has to pay more money to Uncle Sam at the end of every year. He stated that he does everything necessary to live by the laws of the U.S. He believes that the only thing he’s done “wrong” in the eyes of the government, is that he entered this country with his parents as a child without any legal documentation. He passionately told me that he is proud to have been raised here: living in America is all he knows, this is his way of life. I feel calling him anything other than American is just not right.

Here are some other points Juan made in respect to pursuing the American dream as an undocumented immigrant in this country.

  • Juan hasn’t seen his extended family for decades. He cannot leave this country at all to visit his family because he won’t be able to get back in.
  • Juan pays taxes using a special number that he was given. However, for all of these years that he has been working, none of them will apply towards his social security. He also mentioned that he has never received one cent back for his taxes. In fact, he often owes the government more money at the end of each year.
  • Juan said that his bosses abused him in terms of the hours he worked, withholding owed pay, and other employment violations. However; since he is undocumented, he cannot complain to anyone about it.
  • Juan stated that he was paid a quarter of what the job is worth. He said that not only is he better at the job than his documented colleagues; he manages and teaches them what to do while being paid less than them.
  • Juan pointed out how he observes so many people in this country that are here legally, with so many opportunities available to them, yet they do nothing positive with their lives. Instead of thriving in this land, they choose to lead lives of crime and destroy their communities. Meanwhile, he’s thinking of how far he could go if he had those same opportunities.

It was very informative for me to get this personal and deep insight into the life of a person in this situation. What are your thoughts on this topic?

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6c7b36e3dbc384b78dc831884d4fe595Angel Rodriguez is the publisher of NYCTalking.com, a page that “covers current affairs, business reviews, fashion advice, opinion and commentary, along with random musings from time to time.” Angel is a Bronx boricua, poet, rapper, and a US Air Force vet. You can follow him on Twitter @arodomus

Wichita Artists and Community Restore “Immigration Is Beautiful” Mural Defaced by Racist Graffiti

Remember the immigration mural in Wichita, Kansas defaced with racist graffiti this week?

Armando Minjarez

Armando Minjarez

We have some good news to share.

The folks at The Seed House/Casa de la Semilla updated us this evening about the mural.

It has been restored.

Here are three images the group shared on its Facebook page.

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Armando Minjarez

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Armando Minjarez

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Armando Minjarez

And this, too:

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Armando Minjarez

A local Kansas story adds more:

Dozens showed up Saturday morning to help repaint the mural called “Immigration is Beautiful” near 21st and Park Place. Armed with “Krud Kutter” and paint brushes to get rid of the graffiti, with racial slurs on top.

“The mural is not propoganda,” said Armando Minjarez, a cultural worker and resident artist who spoke to the group Saturday morning. “That mural is about experiences they have gone through.”

One group worked on fixing the mural, another team worked on creating a new mural that will go on the back of the building, and a third team went through the neighborhood to talk to neighbors about the significance of the mural and ask if they to would like to help.

“Pictures are worth a thousand words and we’re fixing this picture that someone tried messing up,” said Jan Swartzendruber, one of the volunteer painters. “That’s what’s so neat about this group, it shows you a cross section of Wichita and the ability to work together and that’s a really important message to me.”