LOS ANGELES – Graffiti, abandoned factories, dead train tracks.
In the least likely of industrial neighborhoods stands a mural that honors victims of violence, including a Filipino name, Joseph Ileto.
In August of 1999, Ileto, a postal worker was on his mail delivery route when white supremacist Buford Furrow was on a shooting rampage targeting people of color.
He shot five people at a Jewish community center, all whom eventually recovered, minutes before killing Ileto. Furrow later revealed he gunned down the mailman because was Filipino and a federal employee.
Furrow is continuing to serve a life prison sentence.
“His family has emerged from that as one of the leaders in hate violence, for gun control and for communities and understanding, overcoming violence in the community,” Li’i Furumoto of Asian Americans Advancing Justice said. “So because their story is so inspirational and because everything they’ve done, so much in the community, we wanted them to be one of the first untold stories.”
The mural is part of Asian Americans Advancing Justice’s project to share untold stories.
The Ileto inspired mural was unveiled on International Humans Rights Day at the Weber Community Center in South Central Los Angeles.
Surrounding Ileto’s name, which spells out a message of hope and peace, visitors can find other stories of civil rights, including immigration. There are also messages of inspiration depicted as books, a collection of thoughts from the locals in a side of town known for crime and poverty.
“Most of them were painted by the youth so they came out with their quotes. They came up with a lot of inspirational quotes. Some of them made up their own quotes,” said lead muralist Kristi Sandoval.
“A lot of my work has to do with social justice. I definitely incorporate immigration rights in there. I include dreamers, I include environmental justice,” she added.
While the tragedy of Joseph Ileto may seem long ago, the issues of race and violence remain relevant 15 years later. That gives community groups more inspiration to share the untold stories in the mural.
The mural comes as recent police violence has put a spotlight on race, and as the LGBTQ community tries to spread awareness on crimes against transgender people.
“Part of the Ileto story is just to recognize these forms of hate-based violence, based on race, based on gender, based on religion, exist and that we have to deal with them. We have to talk about it. And as difficult as it is, we have to deal with it. So this mural is part of that process,” Furumoto said.
While the Ileto family was unable to be at the unveiling, they continue working with community groups. Their future plans include another mural that digs deeper into the impact left by Joseph’s death.
Here ‘s my quote
Filipinos presence don’t add value
Their absence make no difference.