Intro from our Chairperson
We are sharing an article with you that was accidentally missed in the last publication of Front Porch Flyer (FPF), along with an apology for the error. The article was about the racist graffiti at John Gaines park, and unfortunately only the picture accompanying the article was published, leading to confusion and concern amongst neighbors as to why a hateful image was shown without any context. On behalf of the MNA and the FPF editorial team, the Steering Committee (SC) members would like to apologize to our neighbors and the writers of this article for any harm and hurt this inadvertent mistake has caused. We plan to include the full article in the next print edition of FPF, along with sharing it electronically on social media and our newsletter.
There were a number of unfortunate oversights that led to the omission of this article, and we at the SC are taking steps to ensure that this does not happen again. The previous FPF editorial team has stepped down to make way for a new team that will temporarily be led by SC member Sarah Seraj. She hopes to add new features in the FPF that will add more diverse voices and stories to our publication, to center equity as an integral part of our community. We request our neighbors to help Sarah, as she kicks off a new series of publications - whether it's through advertisements, writing articles or connecting her to other neighbors. Here is a survey you can fill out to let Sarah know how you can help with the FPF:
We hope you will read the article and join the MNA in our efforts to actively stop discrimination and racism in our neighborhood. We had a presentation in our last general meeting about the history of segregation in our city (the 1928 plan) and discussed how it still negatively impacts East Austin. We plan on having similar conversations in the future to learn our history and figure out how we can solve these challenges as a community. We hope you will lend us your support.
With gratitude and our sincerest apologies,
Greg Keller, MNA Chair
Racist Graffiti at
John Gaines Park
Written by Mueller Neighbors
Content warning: the text and images in this article contain information about racist graffiti that can be upsetting.
Earlier this summer, racist graffiti was seen and reported by a neighbor at John Gaines Park, etched into the side of the mailboxes (please see image). The POA was promptly informed and the graffiti was removed. Unfortunately, it reappeared shortly afterwards. Currently, the side of the mailbox has been repaired 5 times, but the graffiti has persisted, sometimes returning within 72 hours after each repair.
There has been some discussion in the neighborhood, especially in our online Facebook group and the MNA General meeting, how the upsetting the graffiti has been to community, especially in light of the current political climate where racist, homophobic and transphobic laws are being passed, including the banning books on racism and DEI subjects in higher education (for more information, search for SB 17). A Black neighbor expressed the following: “The racial history of this country includes signs and symbols that Black people were not welcomed in certain places. I think of things like nooses, burning crosses and signs on water fountains. Although I did not live through or experience that time, the graffiti in Mueller feels sadly reminiscent of this history to me. A reference to slavery and Democrats being angry about slaves being freed doesn't exactly signal "You're welcome here". It signals the opposite, especially since the perpetrator has repeatedly reapplied this nasty message. It feels intentional and dogged. It feels designed to make me and others feel uncomfortable. It doesn't belong in the same neighborhood that has Black Lives Matter signs. I am pleased about the neighbors who are speaking up and taking action on this issue. I am disappointed at how many neighbors seem to not care.”
This article in the Front Porch Flyer is a call to action to our neighbors. The vision of Mueller is to build an equitable and inclusive neighborhood, but the graffiti is a disturbing reminder of the undercurrents of racism that exist beneath the surface and the work that still has to be done by us. Mueller does not exist in a vacuum - the problems of racism, gentrification, lack of social services and support exist in our neighborhood too, as it does in the rest of America. But we can make a difference by standing up and taking action. If you wish to be involved in current and future endeavors to advance equity in our neighborhood, please email us at [email protected]. We’re also adding some steps you can take as a neighbor to report racist graffiti, as more are cropping up in other places in our neighborhood.
Figure 1: Image of the Graffiti in its 5th iteration on May 25th 2023, at John Gaines Park
Steps to take to report racist graffiti:
- Take a picture and notify Austin 311 to report the graffiti, since the City of Austin has a graffiti task force to track the locations, times, and content of racist and political graffiti. You can either use your phone to call 311 or use the Austin 311 app, which has the added convenience of tracking your location via GPS and allowing for instant photo upload.
- Next, alert the POA ([email protected]) as they will be responsible for the final cleaning. They can also let Mueller's patrol network know to monitor that area more often. Please also CC the MNA ([email protected]) on this email so that they are aware too and can help out where necessary.
- If you are able to do so, post on the Mueller Neighbor’s Facebook Group as a means to spread awareness around the neighborhood quickly.
- Please do not remove the graffiti yourself even if it is offensive. It needs to be documented and tracked by the appropriate entities for education, training, funding, and mitigation issues.