City ‘Rectifying Miscommunication’ by Donating Funds to Paint New Mural

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- After painting over a student graffiti art project last weekend, city officials are hoping to rectify the mistake by donating the funds necessary to replace it.

Over the weekend, city staff were directed to paint over a mural along a flood wall near the Raccoon River. The project was part of an Urban Arts class at Des Moines Central Campus, costing more than $3,000 and a year-and-a-half of work to complete.

City officials cite bad communication as the reason for the mishap -- an email chain between the school and city had the Urban Arts class believing they had the green light to begin painting, where city workers were under the impression it was protocol to remove the unapproved mural from city property.

“Very much that feeling of emptiness, feeling of frustration, feeling like you really did all the things that you thought that you were supposed to do, and then to see a work that took numerous hours, cost numerous dollars. Gone,” said Kristopher Rollins, who teaches Urban Arts at Des Moines schools.

Students claimed the mural represented a positive message for the community, with part of the mural dedicated to fellow student, Kendall Foster, a sophomore at North High School who was killed last month due to gun violence.

But on Wednesday, Des Moines City Councilman Joe Gatto said the city would be working to rectify the situation. A GoFundMe page was set up by the class to raise the $4,000 necessary to replace the mural. The city will be donating the remaining $2,500 needed on the fundraising page so the students can replace their work as soon as possible.

"The project down that the kids did was a tremendous asset to our city. I mean, they worked tremendously hard," Gatto said. "So I was very disappointed to see there was a miscommunication. When I found out, I really felt sick to my stomach, because I know those kids worked very hard at it."

The city's donation will help the class purchase the materials needed, as well as bring the artists back into town who helped outline the drawings.

"It's our job to keep our city clean, and they were just doing what they were told - we had a complaint about it," Gatto said. "And, you know what, they went out and did what they were told. They were very efficient, obviously, because we weren't able to stop them, and the whole wall is painted. But we're going to do the best we can now to rectify a miscommunication that we both had."

Also on Wednesday, the City of Des Moines has partnered with Des Moines Public Schools and its arts and culture group, RunDSM, to help in the forward progression of the mural. Click here to read the city’s press release.

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