New outdoor mural in Fruitvale inspired by gang injunction defendants

Sean Maher (Oakland Tribune) | August 14, 2011

OAKLAND — The debate over proposed gang injunctions in the Fruitvale neighborhood has never lacked for spirit, but it recently got a new dash of color.

A mural was painted on the side of a shop at 34th Avenue and Foothill Boulevard, about 30 feet wide and 15 feet high, depicting what organizers said is the past, present, and future of the Chicano community and its struggle against police.

On Aug. 7, artists started painting the mural during a neighborhood block party that drew dozens of local residents for music, dancing and food.

Organizers said it was originally the idea of two defendants in a controversial gang injunction proposed in October and still making its way through the courts. Forty adults named in the lawsuit are accused of being members of the Norteños gang, which police say is responsible for about half of the area’s violence. If granted by a judge, the injunction would limit the defendants’ movement and allow police greater discretion in controlling their behavior.

Police say every one of the defendants has at some point claimed membership in the gang or been convicted of crimes explicitly related to the gang. Several defendants have countered, both in court and at public rallies, by saying their criminal days are behind them and that the injunction would make moving forward with their lives more difficult.

“They’re saying we’re the worst of the worst, but look at what we got together,” said Michael Muscadine, 25, gesturing to the neighborhood get-together. Muscadine, who is named in the injunction, was convicted in 2008 of accessory to felony robbery and possession of a firearm for sale; in 2004, he admitted being a Norteño to police and was twice convicted of misdemeanor vandalism, according to police documents filed with the injunction. Now, he said, he’s trying to do more positive things with his life, looking for work as a carpenter and hoping to build up his community with more projects such as the mural. He said he’s doing so alongside his lifelong friend and fellow injunction defendant Ruben Leal, with whom he collaborated on the mural.

Read more at: http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_18676902?nclick_check=1

Photo credit: Michael Conti/Mercury News

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