Lucía González Ippolito wishes she could have included more people in the mural.
The mural, Alto al Fuego en La Misón, is already huge, standing two stories tall. In fact, HOMEY, a youth empowerment nonprofit that organized the mural, says that it’s the largest mural to be painted in the Latino Cultural Corridor in a decade.
Alto al Fuego en La Misón has multiple purposes: It’s a direct critique of police brutality toward black and Latinx people, and a way of honoring Amilcar Perez Lopez, a Guatemalan immigrant who was killed by plainclothes officers of the San Francisco Police Department on Feb. 26, 2015.
Protests followed Perez Lopez’s death, and the officers involved — Craig Tiffe and Eric Reboli — weren’t charged for the murder. The mural includes others killed by the SFPD: Mario Woods, Alex Nieto, Luis Gongora Pat, and Jesus Adolfo Delgado. But artists say some critics of the mural wished that there were more people included.
“‘Why didn’t you put in Jessica Williams?’ Or, ‘Why didn’t you put in this person?’ The truth of the matter is that we just didn’t have enough space,” Ippolito, who was one of the designers for the mural, says. “And I wish we could include a lot more.”
“That was the hardest part,” Anna Lisa Escobedo, one of the lead painters for the mural, tells SF Weekly. “From the community, a lot of people were saying, ‘We are missing this person, this person, this person.’ We could do five more murals and focus on people who had the same circumstances, and that is sad.”
Alto al Fuego en La Misón started off as just a dedication to Perez Lopez. But then the designers decided to include more and more faces on candles. That’s when they started thinking of the mural as one big altar.
The finished product is filled with vibrant pinks and blues. The Guatemalan landscape and the San Francisco cityscape fills the top of the wall. There’s a portrait of Perez Lopez wearing a San Francisco Giants hat, and a painting of his family.
“It’s definitely a looker, it’s something to look at,” Escobedo says. “Yes, it’s bright and colorful. But when you look at it, you’re looking at an altar.”
Other portraits include those of immigrants who have died on the Southern border: Roxana Hernandez, Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, and Oscar and Valeria Martinez. Hernandez died in ICE custody, Gomez was shot by a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent, and the Martinezes drowned trying to migrate to the United States.
“We really wanted to connect different kinds of law enforcement violence,” Dyana Delfin-Polk, associate director of HOMEY, says in regards to the SFPD and “at the border specifically, and the treatment of immigrants as a community.”
The mural is filled with candles and flowers — marigolds, calla lilies, roses. It’s positioned at the “gateway to the Latino Cultural District,” says Escobedo. “They wanted something that encompasses what our realities are.”
UPDATE: The mural was designed and directed in community and collaboration by Carla Elana Wojczuk with, HOMEY, Justice4Amilcar Coalition, Mission community, Lucía González Ippolito, and assisted by Flavia Elisa Mora; Lead Muralists: Carla Elana Wojczuk, Lucía González Ippolito, Cristian Muńoz, Anna Lisa Escobedo, Adrianna Adams, Flavia Elisa Mora (painting and poetry), Pancho Pescador; lettering: Sonia G Molina.
Alto al Fuego en La Misón, 24th and Capp Street.
Grace Li covers arts, culture, and food for SF Weekly. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org