By Miriam Raftery
Photos courtesy of Officer Murphy and El Cajon Police
June 19, 2020 (El Cajon) – When El Cajon Police Officer Michael Murphy found three youths spray-painting “peace” and “BLM”, he created a teaching moment. “I explained to them that by doing that, their message gets lost and destroys another person’s property. So I decided instead of arresting them we would work together to fix the damage and work on an area where they can post their message,” he posted on Facebook.
So he arranged to meet up with them, get plywood and find a place for them to express their views and creativity in a positive way - as well as having them lend a hand to clean up the defaced property. The result is a work of art showing talent and the power of working together for creative solutions to conflicts.
Yesterday, he posted this update.“This is the mural they designed and just finished! I am proud to have gotten to know them through this experience. The city is working with the local churches to find it a place to have its message spread."
Councilman Gary Kendrick confirmed in an e-mail to ECM that the city has aranged to have the mural rotated to private properties for display. "Meridian Baptist Church is getting it first for 30 days, then it is off to First Presbyterian Church. If you know of other places that would like the mural, we can make the arrangements."
CBS news interviewed the three young artist -- one white, one black, and one Hispanic.
"We were out putting up a message of peace and love, BLM," said Daniel Peters, 33, a husband and father.
His friend, Gee Cabral said, "We were angry about everything that is going on in the world."
They admitted doing the spraypainting when the officer arrived, who said he appreciated their honesty and that they treated him with respect, as he did for them in return after seeing their messages.
Officer Murphy voiced this wish for others to learn from the experience. "I hope that everyone who reads this story can see that no matter our skin color or the profession we work, we remember that we are all human and if we all treat each other with respect and dignity this will be a much better world.”