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Group apologizes for covering iconic street art mural

September 29, 2011 |  2:15 pm

Mural plastered over

A nonprofit group seeking to end ignorance of a deadly conflict in Africa has issued an apology for pasting their campaign posters over one of Los Angeles' best known street murals.

The group, Falling Whistles, admits it "screwed up" this week when it covered the mural, known as "Only Time Will Tell," at 2nd and Garey streets in the heart of the Arts District. The mural was a global effort by street artists from several nations, many of whom show their works in galleries and museums across the globe.

Falling Whistles pasted over the mural with images of the faces of hundreds of people from Los Angeles and the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- part of an effort to end the deadly conflict in the African nation.

The destruction of the mural ignited anger among graffiti writers and other artists who bombarded the nonprofit's director with social media messages Wednesday.

"Why would you try and raise awareness for human rights campaign by destroying culture!?1!?" asked @JetSetGraffiti on Twitter. "Worst marketing ever!!!"

Jason Williams, the artist known as Revok, said he considers the defacement of the mural a personal loss because he was one of the people who helped create it in 2009.

"It was stupid and naive to paste over it and it is such a shame because it is a cause I would support if I'd been asked," Revok said. "It is probably the last mural I will be able to paint in Los Angeles. I have been involved with that wall for years."

Falling Whistles director Sean Carasso issued a letter of apology and acknowledged the gaffe.

He said the Arts District had accepted his organization -- as well as their fight against the war in Congo.

"This was the neighborhood that accepted us for who we were and showed us -- literally on the walls -- how to speak up," the letter said. "And so it was tragic to learn today that other members of that community felt disrespected by us and our actions."

Carasso said the wall was donated by the building manager, who told them the mural was scheduled to be sandblasted clean in the next couple months.

"It was not our intention to disrespect the artists of that wall. Or any wall," Carasso wrote. "We love the art in our community and treasure the freedom to say what we feel however we feel it. ... we screwed up. "

The action comes at a time when street artists are complaining that legitimate graffiti art is being unfairly targeted by city and county officials. Earlier this month, artist Saber hired skywriters to take his fight to the skies. The skywriters wrote messages such as "Art is not a crime" and "end mural moratorium."

Saber, who first tweeted a photo of the covered-up mural, told The Times, "Have respect for L.A.'s murals and leave the art to the artists."

He also thanked Falling Whistles for their apology and said he agrees with their cause -- he just wishes it had been handled differently.

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-- Richard Winton

Photo:  A group promoting peace in Africa plastered over an iconic L.A. mural this week. Credit: Saber via Twitter

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