Upset neighbors paint over southwest Atlanta mural

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Wolunteers spent Friday cleaning the paint off a defaced mural on University Avenue in southwest Atlanta.

ATLANTA - The future of a controversial southwest Atlanta mural is uncertain after neighbors painted over it.

The art was commissioned by the group Living Walls, but a lot of neighbors didn't like the finished product. The mural depicts snake- and fish-like fantasy creatures. Upset residents covered it with paint Friday morning, and now there are questions about whether the art met city requirements in the first place. 

Channel 2’s Amy Napier Viteri saw volunteers spend Friday cleaning the paint off the mural.

Angel Poventud wasn't surprised when he heard a group of community leaders from the Pittsburgh community painted over the mural on University Avenue.

“The fishes were satanic. The scales were satanic. You know, they just don't feel that it represents their community,” he told Viteri

The nonprofit Living Walls conference commissioned the painting by French artist Roti, who spent a month creating it. Supporters said there was no reason for neighbors to take matters into their own hands.

“To see it being defaced that way, it was disappointing and saddening,” Adrainne Gray said.

She said she and her children watched the mural go up and spent the day cleaning off the paint with other volunteers. Her son Everrett loved the artwork, but not the paint he saw covering it Friday morning.

“I didn't think it was nice,” he said.

The Living Walls director showed Viteri the application signed by three city of Atlanta departments approving the work. The group didn't realize City Council needed to pass an ordinance authorizing the public art. Councilmembers Cleta Winslow and Joyce Sheperd said they're working to clarify the process after receiving dozens of calls from neighbors about the mural.

"Some people look at snakes and things and read a whole different interpretation into it. They didn't like it," Sheperd said.

The councilmembers said that doesn't mean neighbors had a right to paint on the wall, and it appears no one had the authority to do that because the property belongs to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

GDOT crews said they didn't issue a permit for the mural and will likely have to cover it up.

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