Phoenix, AZ – A mural of an American flag that was painted the day after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon was found vandalized and defaced on June 25.
The Arizona Republic reported that the mural has been on the wall for 18 years, ever since it was painted on Sept. 12, 2001 to honor those who gave their lives in the attacks the day before.
The mural, located on Cactus Road just west of 40th Street, was defaced with profanities directed at President Donald Trump and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The words “F--k Trump!!!” and “F--k ICE!” were written across the mural in black spray paint, according to the Arizona Republic.
Seventeen-year-old Ryne Bolick said he doesn’t ever remember a time when the flag mural wasn’t there.
Bolick said he passed the flag mural every day while he was growing up nearby.
“It’s something that makes me smile when I pass by it,” he told the Arizona Republic.
Bolick said he was surprised it was vandalized.
“I was completely shocked because to me the American flag just represents pride in our country,” he explained. “All politics aside, I don’t look at this from a political perspective.”
It was Laura Giacoppo, a former resident in the neighborhood, who initially painted the flag on the wall with her son and a friend after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“It was just a thing that we did to honor all the people who died,” Giacoppo said.
The current resident of the house with the flag mural on the wall, Mini Hanna, said she was devastated when she saw the graffiti, the Arizona Republic reported.
“It’s really sad for me. It’s the state of our union right now and it’s extremely upsetting," Hanna said.
But things started looking up on June 25 when neighbor Marcy Bobbitt spotted two police officers and a teenager fixing the mural, according to the Arizona Republic.
Phoenix Police Officer Mario Lozoya and Phoenix Police Sergeant Matt Morgan, along with Officer Lozoya’s son, painted over the graffiti.
“I was touched that they would be standing out there in 105-degree weather painting this flag,” Bobbitt said.
Hanna said she was “elated” to see the people repainting the mural on her wall.
“I respect them so much. I respect law and order, and I was very touched,” she said. “I think what I’m most pleased with is that young man. He showed such a great sense of citizenship and integrity to do that with his dad.”
Bobbitt said she hoped something like this would help people “see the police in a different light,” the Arizona Republic reported.
“We are indebted to those two young men,” Bobbitt said. “They are just wonderful young men. I was impressed by both of them – their moral character and just their caring nature.
“Seeing those officers doing that in this weather should go far to show people where the hearts of these young men are,” she told the Arizona Republic.
Bobbitt said the flag shouldn’t treated like a political symbol.
“It was a terrible thing to deface the American flag like that. Doesn’t matter what your political beliefs are. The flag is what it is,” she told the Arizona Republic. “The flag is much more than a painting or a piece of cloth. It’s a symbol for what the United States of America stands for.”