John Kriesel objects to pro-Occupy mural at South High featuring image of Brother Ali

brother ali south mpls mural.jpg
KSTP screengrab
Students say the mural shows Ali spreading "hope" over distressed homes.
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Last week, Minneapolis' South High School unveiled a 1,700 square-foot mural designed and painted by students.

The mural is an impressive piece of work, especially considering it was painted by a bunch of high school students. But its subtle pro-Occupy message has drawn the ire of retiring Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, who tweeted over the weekend that "Political views should not be forced on kids" at a public school.

A KSTP report provides some details about the mural, which was financed by an anonymous $10,000 donation:
south mpls occupy mural.jpg
KSTP screengrab
A larger look at the mural.
There is a line of homes and an image of Wall Street painted on the mural which is in a stairwell leading up from the common area at the school. Brother Ali, a local rap artist who was arrested in June for trespassing during an Occupy Homes protest, is also pictured on the mural. His hand is open, shining what the students call "hope" over the homes on the mural.

"We have seen him in his song lyrics; he's really involved in what's going on today," said South High Junior Lamia Abukhadra...

"It's really not about politics for us here. It's about school and how to live life," said South High Principal Cecilia Saddler.
On Saturday, Kriesel -- a decorated war veteran who is probably the state's most outspoken pro-gay marriage Republican -- tweeted a link to the KSTP report, along with a bit of commentary: "This sets a pretty crappy example for kids. Keep political views out of schools."
Thumbnail image for john kriesel crop.jpg
Rep. Kriesel

During an exchange with a liberal follower, Kriesel asked, "Would you see something wrong with it if it were a Tea Party mural on a school wall?"

"For the record, I'd be just as against the school mural if it were a Republican view on it," he continued. "Political views should not be forced on kids."

But South art teacher Denny Sponsler said he wasn't interested in steering the mural's student-developed political theme in a neutral direction.

"We weren't trying to be overtly political but I also really didn't believe that it would be good at all to stifle where this kind of exploration would go," Sponsler told KSTP.


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22 comments
truth
truth

I would like to explain to John Kriesel and others that may have the same opinion as him, that this project is/was non-partisan. None of the students were influenced by anyone. The images and ideas were truly organic - straight from the minds of the youth, not anyone else. I noticed that the media failed to mention that the direction the kids were given, was to use the preamble of the constitution as the subject matter. They created an open dialogue based on the preamble and formulated their sketches and ideas upon that dialogue. They looked at what happens when our rights are taken away, and asked themselves, are we, as a country, following this preamble? The preamble states, "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." This is not about being Democrat or Republican. This is about forming a more perfect Union, establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defence and promoting the general welfare. I ask you, Mr. Kriesel, to please view this, not through the eyes of a politician who identifies with a party, but through the eyes of an innocent youth who is simply responding to the events that she sees.

jojowasatran
jojowasatran

MLK wasn't political? Ghandi wasn't political? Thoreau wasn't political? Ben Franklin wasn't political? Think, you poodle!

senatortombstone
senatortombstone

I wonder how many of these children are able to do the following: 1) Read a newspaper editorial and provide an accurate, one paragraph summary. 2) Determine the cost per ounce of a four dollar pound of hamburger. 3) Tell which centuries the following events occurred in: the revolutionary war, civil war, world war one, the second Iraq war. But whether or not they can do any of these things matters not. All that matters is that they know how to protest, demand handouts, and vote democrat. Just better make a sure a few business men, scientists, and engineers squeak through so that they can foot the future freeloaders' bills.

MarcelloErnetti
MarcelloErnetti

We and our children are indoctrinated in school with a distorted and extremely politicized point of view that is made so through the teaching of a hollowed out U.S. and world history; compromised largely into being as such by prideful attachment to ego boosting tribalism. Teaching, and a resultant widespread view of the world, that is free of knowing things like the repeat U.S. coup d'etats of democratically elected leaders and the then ensuing long-standing destabilization of countries like in Iran with Mohammed Mossadegh, Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, Salvador Allende in Chile, Jaime Roldos in Ecuador, Omar Torrijos in Panama and others. Free of knowing things like how the U.S. Capitol building and White House were built by slaves, that twelve U.S. presidents (eight while in office) owned slaves, that in the 20th century over 30 U.S. states had forced sterilization eugenic laws in their books (inspiration for Hitler's eugenic programs actually took root here by his own words of praise). And that is all completely 100% true, but extremely far-fetched sounding to the common person by the extremely politicized foundation of what is laid in school. A fallacious foundation which manufactures a distorted image of hallowed nobility to the U.S. government and its causes for military action.

knittinginmpls
knittinginmpls

It's hard to ignore that foreclosure is something that these kids are possibly faced with. Seeing someone like Brother Ali fighting for people to stay in their homes is hope. He brings hope to our communities. Politics were forced on these kids when their families faced foreclosure. I agree with Marc. Perhaps Kriesel would have enjoyed an LMFAO mural more. We know he's a fan of the Party Rock Anthem.

Curtis Berg
Curtis Berg

My answer: I'm certain South High would welcome a $10,000 donation from the Tea Party for a muraled image inspired and created by South High Students. However the Tea Party has done little to nothing for the advancement of education or communities. It should be no mystery why there was no inspiration to include images from the political Right. The Tea Party seems to be about individuals, less government and less taxation. It may be more fitting if John Kriesel painted a mural on his own garage door, closed the drapes and celebrated himself.

Marc
Marc

Cats outta the bag. We have high school's not just painted, but named after a ton of other people that have stood for things a lot of people didn't agree with. Ali is local (and worldwide) artist, community leader and someone that obviously has positivily influenced their lives. I'm sure an LMFAO mural might be more easily accepted, which is pretty sad. 

 

I've seen Ali setting up his own stage at 7am on a cold Saturday for a day of free shows to show pride in N Mpls, give free healthcare and other services to homeless/poor, bring together a mosque and church to make a positive difference in our community. I'm glad the kids can have such a local leader. If we all gave time/charity like he does, we'd be a much better place. 

 

I'm imagining these same conversations happened when art students painted Bob Dylan murals somewhere in MN 40+ years ago. 

PanicButtonGuy
PanicButtonGuy

These kids are expressing things going on in their lives that affect them through art. Rep Kriesel (who I agree with most of the time) how would you feel about a Cottage Grove school painting a mural of you, a local hero, in Army gear among nice houses, with the word "freedom" above it? Would you feel the same way? Would you view it as political and tell them they should just paint a rainbow instead? Oh wait, a rainbow would support gay marriage. How about we just paint the wall white and call it good? Nope, maybe someone is going to take that as favoring white kids. Kidding. I don't think we need more censorship in our schools. If some of the kids in the school feel offended by the mural then they should use THEIR school government to vote to change it.

Dave Eckblad
Dave Eckblad

An art project gone political? How dare people reflect on the state of our society!

dbrauer
dbrauer

@atrupar told my kid, “what if we toured Buffalo H.S. & there was a big Reagan-Phyllis Schlafly mural? How would you feel?” cc: @johnkriesel

dbrauer
dbrauer

@atrupar I actually had an issue with South High murals when we did h.s. tours, even if unlike @johnkriesel I agreed generally w/sentiments

Trevor Ludwig
Trevor Ludwig

Oooor, what we could do, is paint a mural every year, or twice a year, and whatever the kids are into that year they can have in their school. to, you know, foster that creativity they have. Or we could just squash that before they even get in the door. I guess that works too.

Trevor Ludwig
Trevor Ludwig

Yeah, and we should get rid of murals of kids reading because that's socialist.

Trevor Ludwig
Trevor Ludwig

Yeah, and we should get rid of murals of kids reading because that's socialist.

trellytrit
trellytrit

Aren't classes like Civics and Political Science the very reasons we're educated about politics in school? Its schools like South High that actually enable students to voice their mind in a positive and non-violent way. Rep Kriesel must be not in touch with what is actually going on in our local communities as I doubt Cottage Grove can compare to the impact that has hit the Twin Cities housing market.  

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

@PanicButtonGuy : for me at least, it's not an issue of censorship, but rather the state and cultural support of stupidity. The Occupy movement is obviously a complete sham as it targets symptoms, not solutions to problems.

Xenophilius
Xenophilius

 @mingtran  @PanicButtonGuy  Your problem with the mural is the subject matter, obviously. You think the ideas of Occupy have no value, so you don't want them on a wall. Arguing against something is very different from demanding it be erased, silenced, covered, burned, or removed from existence. The latter is censorship, and that's what you seem to be advocating.

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

@Xenophilius @PanicButtonGuy : that doesn't make any sense. Occupy dorks focus on wallstreet and small banks (symptons), instead of the Fed and Washington (roots of problems). Occupy is nothing more than a convenient wedge issue to keep the masses bickering and uninformed, just like America's two party political system does.

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