Graffiti 'toys' hit portrait of Parkland shooting victim in Wynwood

Vandal damages 'We Demand Change Through Voting' mural

WYNWOOD, Fla. – In the world of graffiti, a "toy" is a clumsy writer who lacks experience and "toying" is the disrespectful act of writing over someone else's art work. Joaquin Oliver would have known that. He loved contemporary art and hip-hop culture. 

The Andy Warhol and Banksy admirer was 17 years old when he died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland last year. His love of graffiti inspired his grieving father, Manuel Oliver, to use the art form to express his sorrow. 

In July, several parents of the victims were in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood for the unveiling of the "We Demand Change Through Voting" mural on the corner of 23rd Street and First Place. The mural depicts the scene of a protest.

"We are sad. We are angry," Manuel Oliver said at the unveiling. "But we are together and we are going to keep up this fight for the rest of our lives." 

The mural has a series of black and white stencil portraits. It includes a sign demanding to "End Gun Violence" and a portrait of Joaquin. On Friday morning, neighbors discovered a "toy" was out "toying" with red and yellow paint and defaced Joaquin's image with horns and tags. 

The owner of the building, former Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, was outraged. He remembers Manuel Oliver helped to create the mural last year, and he said he was "very sad" when he learned of the vandalism on Friday. 

Wynwood residents, regulars and local artists were outraged. Maria Aviles said it was "just wrong" and Oscar Glottman, an architect and artist who has a business on Second Avenue, said "there should be a sense of respect." Rick Lovera agrees. 

"It has a lot of meaning and that is dishonor," Lovera said. "You can't do that!"

Artist Jetzabel Leon cleaned it up on Friday afternoon. It won’t erase what happened, but it shows that the community cares. Manuel Oliver was grateful for the artist and said that after losing his son in the massacre it takes a lot to offend him. 

"For me to be offended, requires a lot," he said. 

Leon, who restored the mural, has a message for the "toy."

"Enjoy someone else's art, embrace it," Leon said, "instead of ruining it, go make your own."

Related social media:

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Some Warhol and some me

A post shared by Joaquin Oliver (@slump_guac) on

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Boss up

A post shared by Joaquin Oliver (@slump_guac) on

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boys night

A post shared by Joaquin Oliver (@slump_guac) on

About the Authors:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.