March 23, 2018
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Activist vandalizes mural of French explorer, decries it as symbol of white supremacy

Inauthentic depiction of Champlain, by Théophile Hamel (1870), after the one by Ducornet (d. 1856), based on a portrait of Michel Particelli d'Emery (d. 1650) by Balthasar Moncornet (d. 1668).
Bangor Daily News

Activist Albert Petrarca said he spray-painted the words “Off the Wall” over a Burlington, Vermont, mural because he believes it’s a symbol of white supremacy, the Burlington Free Press reported.

The mural depicts, among other historical Vermont people and scenes, French explorer Samuel de Champlain.

Petrarca, who did not publicly object to the mural when it was painted between 2009 and 2012, told the Free Press he now wants all those involved with the art project, including Mayor Miro Weinberger, to denounce it. Petrarca reportedly told the newspaper he and his supporters are offended by what they feel is the lack of adequate inclusion of the Native American tribes that occupied the area for thousands of years before Champlain’s arrival.

“As you know, all over this country, cities are putting new eyes on flags, monuments and memorials of many different types, and we are by this action, resetting the debate on why we have in the center of Burlington’s town square a racist mural that has been up there for five years,” Petrarca told the Free Press.

Weinberger told the newspaper his office is “committed to inclusion and diversity,” and will have staff review Petrarca’s allegations that the mural isn’t diverse enough, but said he’s “disheartened” the activist didn’t raise his concerns when the mural was being originally planned and painted.

Police are determining whether to charge Petrarca with a felony or misdemeanor for the vandalism, based on whether the damage is valued at more than $1,000, the Free Press reported.

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