"Judge Overturns SF School Board Decision To Cover Up Controversial Mural"

The rationale: The Board violated the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires Environmental Impact Reports before actions that affect the environment or objects of historical significance.


CBS San Francisco reports:

A Superior Court judge ruled Monday to overturn the San Francisco Unified School District's decision to remove a controversial mural from a local high school.

Judge Anne-Christine Massullo sided with the alumni association of George Washington High School, who sued the SFUSD's Board of Directors back in 2019 over its decision to cover up the 1936 mural by Victor Arnautoff, titled "Life of Washington."

The massive mural drew controversy for its depictions of native Americans and slaves, and students at the school petitioned the board to remove it.

The George Washington High School Alumni Association sued the board over its failure to conduct an environmental review for removing the mural, despite it being required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)….

"The Board and SFUSD failed in their primary duty to follow the requirements of the law," Massullo wrote in her decision. "California, as a matter of long-standing public policy, places enormous value on its environmental and historical resources and the People are entitled to expect public officials to give more than lip-service to the laws designed to protect those resources."

You can read the opinion here.

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  1. Whats wrong with the mural? Since this is SF I presume they don’t care about defending Washington’s honor. So if Indians and slaves were around in his life wouldn’t it be a step toward realism? Does it show Washington whipping or gunning down the Indians and slaves?

    1. On one mural Washington is on his plantation and you can see slaves working. On another, some armed pioneers going west walk over a corpse of a dead native. With rather less total blood and violence than you’d see in a Hays Code-era Western.

      I mean, looking at it, it doesn’t strike me as having any more than nominal artistic value, so I won’t cry any tears if it’s removed.

      And, well, if the school board want to literally whitewash history out of a weird delusion about the fragility of teenagers’ minds, well, history shows that it has always been the primary function of an American public school board to do so.

      (I mean, I’m not sure why we haven’t abolished them, but as long as we have ’em, shouldn’t they go ahead and do what they’re clearly funded to do?)

      1. This is the same school board that wants to rename Abraham Lincoln High School because Lincoln approved the execution of 38 Sioux warriors who participated in the Dakota Uprising of 1862, although he commuted the sentences of 265 others and also did one or two other fairly good things as President. The board is off the deep end and there’s a movement to recall several of them. Willie Brown, former SF Mayor and certainly not a conservative, wrote a good column in the Chronicle criticizing the decision to paint over the mural 2 years ago when the Board voted to do it.

        1. Willie Brown got something right?


    2. The ironic this is that the mural is actual an excellent example of “socialist realism” in art.
      Of course the leftist SF School Board is unable to see anything beyond today’s woke gospel.

    3. SF= Taliban. Funny that another leftist, quack doctrine stopped the new Taliban.

      1. The Taliban actually believe something, San Francisco beliefs are up for cash bid and votes

  2. I’m not sure what they think they’ve gained. Deservedly or not, it’ll disappear once the school district gets the assessment. Probably expedited because of the horrible nature of the depiction. Whatever it depicts exactly.

    1. Still, it’s nice to see a school board — the pre-K of politics — have the tables turned on them.

      1. You’re right – it’s nice that the board didn’t get the brother-in-law treatment from another government entity – in this case the court.

  3. My memory of an earlier article says the mural was intended to remind folks that Washington was a slave owner and Indian killer, that the Founding Fathers were immoral soul-sucking hypocrites, etc. The irony was rich: the people wanting to remove the mural seemed to not understand that they agreed with it.

    1. When painted it believe there was some controversy about the subject in the other direction. I forget if George Washington was identified to be renamed or not. Washington of course was a slave holder on the plus side he freed his slaves in his will and provided pensions for some of them.

      However in this renaming frenzy one name I remain puzzled about was Benjamin Franklin, was founding Father and the first American scientist who while he owned slaves later became an abolitionist was president of the first abolition society in the US. He sponsored legislation to abolish slavery. Surely the left believes in redemption and second chances.

    2. Yeah well, SJWs aren’t really known for thinking, are they?


    3. Don’t speculate. Just look up the piece on Google.
      It was part of a New Deal art project in 1936 with multiple paintings involving Washington. The style is socialist realism not dissimilar to Diego Garcia

  4. The mural was painted by a Jewish Russian Communist who is not “red” enough for today’s SF Marxists. The painter was such a staunch commie that he moved back to Russia during Stalin’s reign of terror.

    1. Did Stalin kill him?


    2. I looked up the Russian-born artist Victor Arnautoff (1896-1979) in Wikipedia. He was a Communist, but he did not return to the Soviet Union until 1963, after his wife’s death. The murderous antisemite Stalin had been safely dead for ten years.

  5. People go into government to get in the way, to get paid to get back out of the way. “Environmental concerns” are irrelevant to this corruption process. Indeed, the better sounding to the rubes, the better.

    Are you learning, yet, how this process is misused?

    This isn’t an aberration. It is government working as designed.

  6. The anti-historical opposition to the mural is just stupid.
    Blocking the anti-historical opposition to a painting using an environmental quality law is equally stupid.

    1. “Keep the conflicting forms of retardation in equipoise,” as James Madison would have put it.

  7. It’s simple. The Socialist Democrats intent is to revise History. Their objective is to remove any traces that they were the Party that supported slavery, founded the KKK, opposed Civil Rights, and performed lynching’s. Once all traces have been removed, they can blame everything on Conservatives.

  8. Doesn’t really matter, they’ll just arrange for it to be mysteriously vandalized.

  9. Lock the board up! Reactivate Alcatraz – no, better yet, put them in Gen Pop at Folsom!

    1. Reactivate Alcatraz?

      Do the Indians want to reoccupy it?

  10. Using the Left’s own bureaucratic impediments against it is delicious. I love it when the beast feeds on itself.

  11. Imagine if ISIS had had to prepare an environmental impact report before destroying the religiously insensitive Buddhist statues in Afghanistan.

    1. Taliban, not ISIS. But same point.

  12. “The massive mural drew controversy for its depictions of native Americans and slaves, and students at the school petitioned the board to remove it.”

    My impression is that few students raised complaints, most of the noise has been from the adults…

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