Home ‘Hate crime’: Swastikas deface Waynesboro mural depicting Black father, daughter

‘Hate crime’: Swastikas deface Waynesboro mural depicting Black father, daughter

Chris Graham

swastikas mural A mural depicting a Black father and daughter painted on the side of the Waynesboro YMCA in 2020 was defaced over the weekend with several swastikas.

YMCA executive director Jeff Fife said the staff noticed the swastikas on the mural, painted in 2020 by Richmond street artist Nils Westergard, Monday morning and immediately called police.

“The Y is extremely frustrated and saddened by this act,” Fife said. “The mural is a not only beautiful and impacting street art – it speaks to the inclusive mission of our organization.”

The mural, created as part of the 2020 Virginia Street Arts Festival, is a depiction of a father and his little girl playing in a swimming pool.

That the father and daughter are both Black was the source of some controversy at the time it was unveiled, according to Westergard, in a June 2022 interview with WMRA public radio’s Randi B. Hagi.

“People got kind of pissed in Waynesboro. People were complaining that it was like a Black Lives Matter mural or something,” said Westergard, who is White. “Like, literally, it was not a conscious decision. It’s just a father and daughter swimming. People were calling and complaining, and then other people would hear people complaining, and they’d call, and they donated money. Nice barometer for America right there.”

Another Westergard mural that has been up in Waynesboro since 2019, “Kaiya with Tulips,” on the building known locally as the “ice house,” was named the top street art mural in the world in 2020 by StreetArt360, an online magazine dedicated to street and urban art.

Fife, calling the swastikas painted on the mural on the side of the Y a “hate crime,” said the YMCA is working with Waynesboro Police in the PD’s investigation into the incident, including providing camera footage to investigators.

The YMCA has also been in contact with Westergard to try to undo the damage that has been done.

Fife said the artist is overseas working on a project through March, but Westergard has been working remotely to assist the Y to get the damage repaired, and it’s anticipated that the touch-up work should be done by the end of the week, Fife said.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].