Alcatraz restores historic political graffiti

Call me a disgrace to the city of San Francisco, but I’ve never actually been to Alcatraz.

Never.

I’ve been in a speedboat full of hockey players that has circled around the perimeter of the island. But outside of that, the only things I know about Alcatraz are things I’ve read in books, or seen blown up into silver screen madness.

I do know, however,that Alcatraz was overtaken at the end of the ’60s and that activists marked a lot of the island compound with political graffiti.

Said graffiti is now being repainted as part of refurbishment efforts made on the historic island, the Marin IJ reports.

Parks services spokeswoman Alex Picavet told the IJ:

“I think it’s the only example we have of park service re-creating graffiti. It is historically significant and an integral part of the story of Alcatraz.”

The isolated former prison was occupied in November of 1969 through June of 1971 by Native American activists as the beginning of a large civil rights movement. During that time, occupants “decorated” several points of the island — namely one of the island’s historic white water tower — with political graffiti, claiming Alcatraz for the American Indians.

As part of a $1 million-plus refurbishment effort, the water tower was coated with a moisture-resistant white paint before being painted with red lettering to recreate the graffiti to its now-historic placement.

Historian and former Alcatraz ranger John Martini told the IJ:

“It was before the days of spray cans being used, it was done with paint and brush.”