CHICO, Calif. - Police are searching for the vandals that defaced a mural with racist and white supremacist graffiti.
The mural stretches along the WeServ, Inc. building at 945 W. 2nd St. in Chico. It represents an early village scene of Mechoopda culture before colonization.
The artist, Ali Meders-Knight, covered up a message on the mural that police are now investigating as a hate crime.
Meders-Knight said she's not sure why she's being targeted, but thinks it may have to do with something she brought up at a city council meeting.
"I've gone to city hall and I actually was on the microphone talking to city council and I explained that I was doing this mural and I felt safe and supportive of the Shelter on Orange St.," she said. " I don't know if these are connected, but it seems like soon after I was being targeted and I have no idea what or how to stop myself from being an activist so I have no clue how they're going to do it either."
Meders-Knight said she started the mural to give some history about the Mechoopda culture before colonization.
People living in the area were upset to see the racist remarks and swastikas on the wall.
"When I see swastikas and stuff on a mural so close to my home it's devastating to me that's something like that is happening so close to where I live," said Timothy Webb, a resident in Chico.
Local business owners were also upset about the graffiti.
"I was very upset," said Todd White, the owner of WeServ Inc. "I think that there's no place for it, you know? I don't like it at all. What do you do? But we don't have cameras or anything out there, but it's horrible."
Meders-Knight said she thinks this vandalism was a warning, but she's not going to let it stop her from creating art.
"I got a warning shot about who's watching me and what their intentions are.," she said. "It was not only about leaving a sign that was vicious, but also mutilating some of the art itself."
Locals in Chico are hoping that the city will start to shine a light on these kinds of crimes.
"I hope Chico starts to take this stuff a lot more serious," Webb said. "You know, we can always try to hide it and cover it up and act like it didn't happen, but when you act like things don't happen that's when things just get away. Things continue to be like they are. So I hope Chico starts to bring some light to this."
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