Admin investigates Franco mural vandalism

Adrienne Kwok and Zahra Muzaffar

james franco mural graffiti
Sophomores Chloe Hong and Julia Qiao ate beside a mural painted on the Student Center wall today during lunch. Administration discovered the words, “How do you vandalize garbage?” after school today and are taking prompt action to remove it. Photo by Adrienne Kwok.

The Palo Alto High School administration is looking to investigate damages done to a mural painted by Paly alumnus and actor James Franco as of Feb. 16.

Students and staff were greeted after the President’s Day weekend with red, spray-painted letters graffitied onto one of two murals Franco had painted last year on the Student Center. The words, “How do you vandalize garbage?” covered his painting depicting student football players.

According to Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson, the district is searching for a method to remove the red paint without affecting the original work.

“I have to see if the district can fix it, remove that painting without removing the real painting,” Berkson said.

According to Berkson, identifying those responsible was made harder due to the extended weekend.

“The problem is catching someone,” Berkson said. “Since we noticed it today, it was probably done over a four [five] day weekend. But we’re on it.”

james franco mural graffiti
Students observed as one of James Franco’s murals was painted in fall 2014. Photo by Adrienne Kwok.

Vandalism can result in a variety of consequences.

“It could go anywhere from a legal matter [such as] bringing in the police to community service to suspension,” Berkson said.

Before the break, the administration painted over the mural displaying students reading Paly’s newspaper, The Campanile. In addition to the murals, Franco, a graduate of 1996, has also donated multiple other paintings that are currently on display around campus.

Some students responded by expressing their disapproval of the graffiti.

“Even if you disapprove or dislike someone’s work, you’re still not entitled to vandalize it,” sophomore Adeline Zhou said. “Honestly it’s pretty disrespectful to Franco. I know I would be hurt if someone trashed my work.”

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