A Flag “Paint Over”

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, a flag mural was painted on a concrete slab visible from I-680 east of Oakland. In a typical move from a clueless bureaucracy, however, the flag was painted over just days before Independence Day. It seems that someone at the California Department of Transportation (better known as Caltrans) wanted more bland uniformity along state highways. According to a Caltrans spokesman, the repainting was part of a “graffiti-reduction” project, and officials only recently discovered that the concrete slab where the mural was painted lay on state-owned land.

Even in California the outcry was swift and severe, forcing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to apologize for the desecration of the mural — a move he called “unconscionable.” That mea culpa extended an offer to the three artists who painted the flag nearly nine years ago to place a mural in a more “suitable” location through a proper Caltrans permitting process.

Two unidentified painters didn’t wait, though, restoring Old Glory in time for the Fourth of July on that same spot. The red in red, white, and blue shouldn’t stand for red tape. Thank goodness that there are still real Americans with a can-do spirit.


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