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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Vandalism of downtown Spokane Pride mural spurs $15,000 in donations to fix it

Spokane City Councilman Zack Zappone, left, and artist Tiffany Patterson paint the pride crosswalk at Howard Street and Spokane Falls Boulevard on April 28 as part of a project to refresh the artwork in time for upcoming downtown events. But last week, for second time since it was completed in June, the crosswalk was vandalized.  (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Last week, vandals set aflame a pride crosswalk paintingin downtown Spokane. Just five days later, community members raised $15,000 to restore it.

“When public art is vandalized, we mobilize,” Skyler Oberst, the executive director of Spokane Arts, said in a statement.

This is the second time the display, at the intersection of Spokane Falls Boulevard and Howard Street, has been vandalized since it was completed by Spokane Arts in June, according to Spokesman-Review reports.

Around $7,500 was raised by Spokane Arts and Spokane Pride through a crowdfunding campaign on both websites, according to Oberst.

Another $7,500 was given by the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane. The donation was largely due to the leadership of Bishop Gretchen Rehberg, according to Oberst.

“We wouldn’t have raised so much if not for her – she’s really the unsung hero,” he said. “It’s not often you have someone at the rank of bishop come in and remind people what it takes to come together as a community.”

In a statement, Rehberg said, “The Episcopal Church will always stand with our LGBTQ+ siblings for they are our family, in our pews and in our pulpits. We are grounded in God’s inclusive love and will stand together with everyone who works for a more inclusive society.”

Oberst said his organization and Spokane Pride are on a short timeline to restore the painting before the Spokane Pride Parade and Festival on June 8.

“We’re kind of breathing deeply about the time crunch, but we’re excited at the opportunity to work with the community, which showed clearly that they see it important to get done,” he said.

The pride event next month is put on by Spokane Pride and will feature local artists, musicians and speakers from the LGBTQ+ community, according to its website. Matthew Danielson, Spokane Pride executive director, said in a statement the recent fundraising effort was inspiring.

“The most beautiful part of my job is watching this community come together again and again to support love and equality in the face of such misunderstanding and hatred,” Danielson said.

Oberst said he is unsure what efforts will be made to prevent the future vandalism of the display.

“It’s a little complicated this time around because of budget constraints,” he said. “We can’t keep invoicing the city over and over.”

But with support from the community and city officials, and motivation from the late visionary behind Expo ’74, King Cole, Oberst is confident that the pride painting will remain a staple in downtown Spokane.

“We are daring to dream like King Cole and doing impossible things,” he said. “Together, we can transform this act of vandalism into an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to equality and love.”