Conservative groups repaint murals with ‘censored’ after vandalism

Turning Point USA, College Republicans and the Minnesota Republic painted a nine-panel mural Monday.

The murals for Turning Point USA, UMN College Republicans and the Minnesota Republic seen after they were repainted by the groups on the Washington Avenue Bridge on Tuesday.

Ellen Schmidt

The murals for Turning Point USA, UMN College Republicans and the Minnesota Republic seen after they were repainted by the groups on the Washington Avenue Bridge on Tuesday.

Allison Cramer

In response to a rash of vandalism targeting University of Minnesota student group murals this weekend, three affected political groups painted “censored” over nine panels on the Washington Avenue Bridge Monday.

The large, white-on-black words cover phrases like “racists not welcome” and “can’t paint over hate” that were painted over multiple group’s panels — including Turning Point USA, College Republicans and the Minnesota Republic — in a tumultuous few days following the annual Paint the Bridge event. 

The vandalism was disheartening, said Megan Olson, a College Republicans member who helped paint the mural.

“I’m a freshman, so it was pretty upsetting to find a group that I felt like I fit in with and to participate in politics and do my own thing for once and then to have it destroyed in a matter of 12 hours,” Olson said.

Office of Student Affairs Representative Steve Henneberry said student activities staff were aware of the situation this weekend and offered resources to the student groups, who can choose to report the incidents to the University of Minnesota Police Department or the University’s Bias Response Team.

Olson said she thought University administration handled the vandalism well but could do a better job encouraging diversity of thought.

The new mural includes the words “stop fascism” on the last of the nine panels.

The conservative groups decided on the new design partly in an attempt to limit angry responses to their work, Olson said.

“We were talking about how maybe this would be the last hurrah, and it would kind of limit the amount of backlash that we get because there’s nothing to really get offended by,” Olson said.

Representatives from UMPD didn’t respond to requests for comment Tuesday.