Father of Parkland victim Joaquin Oliver speaks out after Wynwood mural defaced

MIAMI (WSVN) - In Miami’s Wynwood district, where street art pops and captivates on almost every corner, Manuel Oliver’s mural of his son, Parkland shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, comes with deeper meaning than most.

Which is why it was disheartening for the artist and grieving father when it was vandalized earlier this week.

The piece was created by Manuel last summer, months after his 17-year-old son was one of 17 people fatally gunned down in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Manuel spoke to 7News Friday night from his Coral Springs home.

“I tried to make a point. I tried to use art,” he said.

After he found out his mural was defaced, the artist took to Twitter.

In a retweet of a Twitter user decrying the vandalism, the artist referred to his son by his nickname, “Guac.” He wrote, “I guess someone didn’t like Guac’s message… Can we clean this mess or should we just let the dumb ones keep showing there ‘amazing’ artistic talents?”

The sarcastic tweet referred to the devil’s horns spray-painted on his son’s head, as well as other unsavory markings.

“Whoever did this has probably — is mad with my son,” he said. “Maybe it’s a group of people who disagree with my ideas, and they just go ahead, and this is the best they can do.”

But by Friday evening, the defaced portions of the artwork had been painted over.

Manuel took to Twitter once again to thank former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who confirmed the mural had been cleaned up and will be fully restored.

The mural calls for change, an end to gun violence and mentions the need to be “Douglas strong.” In the painting, Joaquin is seen standing among icons like Muhammad Ali, Abraham Lincoln, Jimi Hendrix and others. Parkland shooting survivor Emma González is featured as well.

Even for people unfamiliar with the mural’s message, its imagery sparks curiosity.

The back story behind the mural resonated with Newton Santos, who is visiting from Brazil.

“It bothers me a lot. In Brazil, [something similar] happened. Two guys entered a school and shot and killed, I think it’s four or six young kids,” he said.

Joaquin’s life has been memorialized with art in Miami, but Wynwood is far from the only place where strong feelings for the late teen are on display.

“At the end of the day, it’s the same thought, the same cultural power that Joaquin is showing to everybody,” said Manuel.

Some of the smudge marks from the spray paint remain on the mural, but officials said it will be fully restored in the coming days.

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