City Councilmember Mike Bonin today proposed a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the vandals responsible for the illegal graffiti on an historic Venice mural dedicated to 2,273 POWs and troops declared Missing in Action during the Vietnam War.
“Veterans, neighbors in Venice and people throughout the nation were righteously outraged about this awful act of vandalism,” Bonin said. “As we work to restore the mural, we need to take every step necessary to make sure the perpetrators of the crime are arrested and punished.”
The City of Los Angeles offers a standing $2,000 reward for information leading to convictions in illegal vandalism cases, and if approved by the Council, Bonin’s proposal would increase the reward to $10,000. Bonin also reached out to Los Angeles County Supervisors Sheila Kuehl, Don Knabe and Michael Antonovich, who indicated that they would match the City’s reward, increasing the financial incentive for information to a total of $20,000.
“We are hoping that this money will motivate someone to come forward and help the ongoing investigation,” Bonin added. “Now that Memorial Day has passed, I do not want to let the mural and what it represents to be forgotten. We need to remain focused on finding who did this and restoring the mural.”
Because the vandalism occurred on a building that is owned by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is the lead agency in the investigation. Anyone with information about the incident or those responsible should call 888-950-7233, or Bonin’s office at 310-575-8461.
In addition to offering a reward to find those responsible for the vandalism, Bonin renewed his request to members of the community for assistance finding historic photos of the mural to aid in the restoration effort. Unfortunately, restoring the mural is not as simple as removing the paint left by the vandals, much of which was done by volunteers over the weekend. The mural, which is several decades old, had no protective anti-graffiti coating, so extensive restoration work is required to repaint the names that were covered in graffiti. Peter Stewart, the artist who painted the mural in the early 1990s, is deceased, and the public’s help is required to find photos of the mural that can help Judy Baca, Founder and Artistic Director of the Venice-based SPARC (The Social and Public Art Resource Center), and her team as they conduct an assessment to determine the best way to restore the mural.
Anyone with photos of the mural (especially photos of the lower portion of the mural, including the names of the POWs and MIAs from that section of the mural) are asked to send them to Bonin’s Venice-area field deputy Taylor Bazley at Taylor.firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The best way we can respond to this horrible insult to those who paid the sacrifice for their nation is to continue rallying as a community to restore the mural,” Bonin said. “Scores of volunteers, lead by local veteran Jon Scudder, showed up at the mural on Sunday to remove the graffiti before Memorial Day, and I want to continue their example of service and respect for our veterans. I sincerely appreciate the help of everyone who has worked to show servicemen and women that we thank them for their sacrifices and salute their service.”