City resident Jamal Assabani said the city required him to paint his building to cover the murals. His building also houses his business Mose's Market at the corner of Colvin Street and South Ave. Assabani said he was approached by art students he thought were from Syracuse University who asked if they could use his building as a canvas to paint two iconic superheroes -- Superman and Spiderman. Several years later, Syracuse United Neighbors (SUN) Executive Director Rich Puchalski complained stating that SUN suspected illegal drug activity at Mose's Market.
Puchalski said he testified at a nuisance abatement hearing that he didn't feel the owner of the market was doing a good job policing what was going on at the store.
He said that loitering and the condition of the front of the store were contributing to this problem.
Assabani said, the loitering was going on when school let out and was a function of teenagers coming down in groups from neighborhood schools waiting for hot food.
Puchalski said since the hearing he hadn't seen the same activity that gave rise to his complaint.
During the debate, the city codes enforcement made Assabani paint over the superhero murals on his store's exteriors because they said these were gang related.
Puchalski said he only complained about the front of the story where these murals did not appear.
In the end, two large-scale murals were covered with a coating of brown exterior paint at a cost of $1,500 to Assabani.
Assabani understands the work of SUN in trying to improving the lives of families living on the south, southwest and near-west sides of Syracuse, but wonders why his rights as a resident and business owner weren't also taken into consideration.
Both Third District Councilor Ryan McMahon and members of the public arts commission, who were questioned about the murals cover up, weren't aware that Assabani's was directed at his own expense to paint over the murals, which he felt were much admired in the neighborhood.
If you feel you are being unjustly treated by the city, it is imperative that you contact your Common Councilor who is your advocate when dealing with city officials. The main number for the Common Council is 448-8466.