OAKLAND, Calif. – Vandalism has plagued an Oakland daycare for more than a year, but now graffiti artwork may be what saves the school from getting tagged and defaced again.
Starlite Child Development Center on 14th Street at Alice Street near Chinatown celebrated its new vibrant and bold mural Tuesday, featuring every letter from A to Z.
“Parents are happy, people walk by and take pictures of it,” said daycare owner John Wong. “It’s a tremendous improvement from about a year ago.”
Wong’s 23-year-old business was vandalized numerous times over the past year resulting in threats from the city to clean up the graffiti or be forced to pay a fine.
California Highway Patrol Officer Adib Zeid learned about the ongoing problem and enlisted some help from community partners to battle the vandalism.
“It was definitely heartbreaking,” said Zeid. “There are some things that should be off limits and we want to protect and we should be protecting as a community.”
Drawing on the daycare’s purpose, graffiti artist Tion Torrence who goes by “Bukue One” had the vision of letters and stars in hopes of discouraging vandals.
“Just the feeling of vibrance, the feeling of joy, the feeling of power of the alphabet,” he said. “What I can do is show the young taggers there’s another way.”
It became a life-lesson in care and appreciate for students who were mesmerized and excited to see the bold colors, letters and pictures spray painted onto their school.
“This is really nice and I’ve never seen such beautiful art like this,” said student Eldine Kom. “I think whoever made this mural deserves a raise.”
For Wong, the fresh paint means a fresh start for students, teachers and parents.
“Human kindness over adversity always happens,” he said. “I have faith now. About a year ago I felt like I was defeated and there was no way out of it but now – I’m restored.”