Contractor Responsible For Painting Over Pilsen Mural Regrets Controversial 'Making Chicago Great Again' Post

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jun 21, 2017 6:59PM

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Just a day after some Pilsen residents mourned the loss of the iconic Casa Aztlan murals, anger boiled up again on Wednesday over a controversial comment posted by a general contractor working on the property's conversion into apartments. In a now-deleted post from February, Real Restoration Group approximated Donald Trump's notorious campaign slogan with a photo of the space formerly home to the community center: "New project started today. #makingchicagogreatagain." The CEO later expressed regret and emphasized having no enthusiasm for Trump.

Some were irate with the post. "Paraphrasing an anti-Mexican racist President as they displace Mexican people... I was not being hyperbolic when I said this was a rehearsal of colonialism," wrote Ricardo Gamboa, the user who shared the post, which was written in February. Others left critical comments and visitor posts on the company's Facebook page.

Morris Gershengorin, CEO of Real Restoration Group, told Chicagoist that it in retrospect it was a poor decision. "Now, looking back, was it a smart thing to write? No, but there’s no association of my company for support of Donald Trump or any politician… I’m pro-people. I’m pro-neighborhood.

"I did not vote for Donald Trump. Frankly I’m not a fan of politics as a whole," said Gershengorin.

He said that he saw working on the building, which was vacant after Casa Aztlan lost the building, in 2013, as "doing something positive for the community, not negative." Noting that his parents were first generation immigrants from Ukraine, Gershengorin said he is "deeply offended" at being characterized as a racist. "I'm for roots, for history, for community," he told Chicagoist.

There was also property damage done to the building, according to Gershengorin. Police were notified after vandals spray-painted portions of the inside of the property, he said.

Casa Aztlan was deeply tied to Chicago nascent Chicano movement in the 1970s and remained a respected neighborhood institution for decades. The celebrated murals that adorned its former space at 1831 S. Racine Ave. were painted over in gray on Monday, as work is underway to convert the space into apartments. People gathered on Tuesday outside the space to mourn the removal.

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Facebook / Pilsen Neighborhood, Ricardo Gamboa