Petition claims Red Hook mural is racist and needs to be repainted

Petition organizers say the woman is a Black slave, and the Northern Dutchess branch of the NAACP is also calling for the mural to be removed or changed.

News 12 Staff

Jun 18, 2020, 10:04 AM

Updated 1,434 days ago

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Some Dutchess County community members are calling for what they say is a racist mural to be repainted.
"Harvest Past" sits at the southeast corner of East Market Street and Broadway in Red Hook and was painted back in 1996 by two local artists.
The mural depicts a scene from more than a century ago, which includes the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains, as well as a woman pushing an apple cart.
A petition called "Repaint the Racist Mural in Red Hook"  is now circulating. Petition organizers say the woman is a Black slave, and the Northern Dutchess branch of the NAACP is also calling for the mural to be removed or changed.
The image was designed from a photo taken in 1899 of a local mill in Red Hook. It was the first of several murals painted for the area, designed as a tourism draw that celebrated the region's roots.
The mural was created by Andres San Millan and Gloria De Pietro. Both say the woman depicted in the mural is neither a slave nor African-American. De Pietro says the woman is meant to be a Dutch immigrant from Europe and that the colors of the painting simply changed over the past 24 years. She says she would be happy to lighten the colors. San Millan told News 12 that the woman is molded after his mother, but he also said he firmly believes that if the mural is causing pain to anyone, then it should be changed.
But some people who spoke with News 12 say it should be left alone. "People are going out of their way to look for trouble, there's nothing. This [is] perfectly innocent in my opinion," says Donna Wallace, of Red Hook. “I was surprised at the anger when I saw it on Facebook. I was surprised all of a sudden people were picking on the mural. It's been there forever, and it never bothered anybody, why are you doing it now, it's just because of current events?" says Gloria Franconi, of Red Hook.
But the mural has now become part of a current national debate regarding what history should be celebrated and what monuments or murals must be removed.
Petition organizers say they don't want it completely removed but they are calling for partial redesigning and repainting of the mural.
Red Hook officials say they are organizing a meeting to try and come up with a solution
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