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Indiana community members are raising money to save mural

December 13, 2019 GMT
This Dec. 10, 2019 photo shows the the Peace Mural, created 24 years ago by the late Kelby Love, a native of Elkhart, Indiana, on a building in town. Community members and activists are pushing to save the deteriorated mural   that a city neighborhood revitalization project threatens to tear down. The Elkhart Redevelopment Commission approved the option Tuesday, Dec. 10,  to pursue buying the building that is home to the “Peace Mural," which was created decades ago by Kelby Love, a native Elkhart artist. (Geoff Lesar/The News via AP)
This Dec. 10, 2019 photo shows the the Peace Mural, created 24 years ago by the late Kelby Love, a native of Elkhart, Indiana, on a building in town. Community members and activists are pushing to save the deteriorated mural that a city neighborhood revitalization project threatens to tear down. The Elkhart Redevelopment Commission approved the option Tuesday, Dec. 10, to pursue buying the building that is home to the “Peace Mural," which was created decades ago by Kelby Love, a native Elkhart artist. (Geoff Lesar/The News via AP)
This Dec. 10, 2019 photo shows the the Peace Mural, created 24 years ago by the late Kelby Love, a native of Elkhart, Indiana, on a building in town. Community members and activists are pushing to save the deteriorated mural that a city neighborhood revitalization project threatens to tear down. The Elkhart Redevelopment Commission approved the option Tuesday, Dec. 10, to pursue buying the building that is home to the “Peace Mural," which was created decades ago by Kelby Love, a native Elkhart artist. (Geoff Lesar/The News via AP)

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — Some members of a northern Indiana community are trying to raise money to buy a building that has a treasured mural painted on one side of it, fearing the city plans to acquire it and tear it down as part of a neighborhood revitalization project.

The Elkhart Redevelopment Commission on Tuesday approved of trying to buy the building that depicts the “Peace Mural,” which was painted decades ago by the late artist Kelby Love, who was from Elkhart.

Sam Callantine, a local entrepreneur, said the mural was created amid heightened violence in the city during the mid-1990s, and that it stands as a symbolic call for unity and peace.

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“The message is that there’s a higher purpose than our own disagreements and grudges against one another,” Callantine said.

He and his business partner, Jason Moreno, believe the building can be saved. Callantine said the property can be re-purposed to benefit the neighborhood. They want the city to hold off acting on the building so that concerned residents can have time to raise money to restore it. They noted that there are groups and individuals already interested in helping out.

“That building means a lot to a lot of residents on that side of town, Moreno said. “We have very few resources as is, and we have even less cultural heritage.”

City officials recognize how significant the mural is to the community. They want to preserve it, but they also suggested making a replica.

But some residents said they want the original artwork.

“Would you replicate the Mona Lisa? We don’t want a gift shop replication. We want to keep what’s ours,” said Moreno.

Prior to Tuesday’s vote, Love’s mother, Glenda Love, addressed the commission.

“The black community in Elkhart doesn’t get the privilege of being recognized in Elkhart,” Glenda said. “I can speak from facts. I’ve lived here all my life. My brothers and sisters lived here, graduated from Elkhart High School. We always get the bad. We rarely get the good. And this would be something good that Elkhart could be proud of — a young, black man giving part of his life to the city.”

Abby Wiles, Elkhart″s assistant director for community and redevelopment, said the city intends to engage community members regarding the mural’s future.

“We have recognized the significance of the mural and we have not planned to do anything without first talking to the community,” she said.

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend currently owns the building, and it is under no obligation to sell it.