Conservative group’s bridge mural vandalized for third year in a row

The group’s paintings have been vandalized multiple times in previous years.

The University of Minnesota chapter of College Republicans' panel on the Washington Avenue Bridge is seen on Saturday, Oct. 13. The group's panel was vandalized overnight.

Nikki Pederson

The University of Minnesota chapter of College Republicans’ panel on the Washington Avenue Bridge is seen on Saturday, Oct. 13. The group’s panel was vandalized overnight.

Nikki Pederson

For the third year in a row, the University of Minnesota chapter of College Republicans had its Washington Avenue Bridge panel vandalized. 

The phrase “Queer Power” was spray painted in black over the three-panel painting sometime Friday evening or Saturday morning. The group’s panel features words such as “Make the U Great Again,” “Trump 2020” and “The proposed pronoun policy mocks real social issues” — a reference to a gender expression policy that is currently being considered by University administrators.

A Saturday afternoon tweet from the College Republicans’ account stated the vandalization is a “blatant attack” on the group’s First Amendment rights. 

“Very disappointing. We hope the University of Minnesota finds and holds the person(s) responsible for this blatant attack on the UMNCR’s First Amendment rights,” the tweet read.

University police are reviewing video footage of the bridge and the Office of Student Affairs will investigate the situation if a University-affiliated suspect is identified, according to statement sent to the Minnesota Daily.

“We recognize that some in our community found the panel’s message to be hurtful. However, we support free speech and will not tolerate vandalism,” the statement read. 

The panel drew criticism on social media since it was originally painted on Thursday, and students were gathered inside the bridge to discuss the vandalism on Saturday.

“It’s just really frustrating to me,” said student Sam Riggins. “Why don’t you bring people in with the issues you want to focus on instead of just attacking other people and their issues?”

The group’s panel has been a contentious issue in past years. Last year, an altercation occurred on the bridge after one student tried to tape signs over the mural in protest. In 2016, the group’s panel reading “Build the Wall” in support of President Donald Trump’s campaign was vandalized and protested by students.  

In response to last year’s spray painting, the conservative student groups painted over their original and vandalized mural with the word “censored.” 

Mural vandalism hasn’t been limited to conservative groups in the past. In 2016, the Muslim Student Association’s painting was defaced with the word “ISIS.”

College Republicans could not immediately be reached for comment. 

This is a breaking news report. More information will be added as it becomes available.