Controversial mural honoring Trayvon Matrin

April 9, 2012 2:36:40 PM PDT
If you're driving along East 54th street in Elmwood Park, you need to look quick or you might miss it; the giant mural along the right side wall of the Messina Deli.

The artists behind it say it's a tribute to Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teenager gunned down by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman.

"We were moved by it," said artist Carmelo "Snow" Sigona. "We are artists. We paint things that move us."

"It's a tragedy," said artist Ray "Demer" Lopiz. "We're addressing that tragedy."

The artwork has ignited a debate in this small town. Some here are questioning the appropriateness of it, calling it graffiti that will bring down property values.

"If they're allowed to keep this on here, other properties in town will want to do something similar," said Elmwood Park resident Frank Fasolo. "Honestly, I'm totally against it."

Others can't understand what all the fuss is about.

"It's artwork," said John Cawistoski, a customer at Messina Deli. "Specifically just artwork. I don't think there's anything behind it."

The town has told the property owner that the mural violates a local sign ordinance and must be painted over. The mayor insists it's a question of size not content.

"It's not a bad looking sign," said Mayor Richard Mola. "I mean, they did a nice job, but it's illegal."

The deli owner admits the controversy has been bad for business, but says he doesn't regret agreeing to the mural.

In fact, some of the artist's works adorns the walls inside.

"This is great work," said John Messina, the owner of Messina Deli. "A lot of people don't understand it."

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