Have You Heard of The Battle of Bernal Rock?

By on June 9, 2020
The rock at Bernal Heights is usually painted with fun pictures or words. But now it’s making a statement for BLM.

If you’ve ever taken a hike or brought your dog for a walk at Bernal Heights Park in San Francisco then you’ve probably seen the large rock near the Folsom St. entrance that’s usually painted with pleasant or silly pictures by neighborhood artists. Lately though, that rock has displayed messages in support of Black Lives Matter and one neighbor doesn’t like it.

The rock at Bernal Heights is usually painted with fun pictures or words. But now it’s making a statement for BLM. (photo credit: Kseniya Makarova)

It’s a strange story…Bernal resident Kseniya Makarova thought the artwork on the rock could use an update to reflect the important change happening in our country right now. The rock has been decorated for years with something new every month by neighborhood artists. So she, and collaborator Micah Rivera, painted the rock yellow with Black Lives Matter emblazoned across it. By next morning, someone had painted over the BLM message with copper paint. It was completely covered.

Overnight, someone had painted over the BLM message with copper paint.  (photo credit: Kseniya Makarova)

So Kseniya and Micah painted the rock again. This time they chose to honor Alex Nieto who was killed by San Francisco police across from the rock at Bernal Heights Park in 2014. Once again, someone came along and painted over the rock. For five days, artists painted the rock and each time the message was covered over by next morning.

Alex Nieto was killed from gunfire by four San Francisco police in 2014. He grew up in Bernal Heights and a memorial for him is held at the park on the anniversary of his death. (photo credit: Kseniya Makarova)

Neighbors took action and set up a 24 hour watch to keep an eye on the rock and see if they could catch the culprit in the act. Sure enough, they did!! Bernal Heights resident, Rocky Smith, was on the early morning watch on Monday and witnessed someone spray painting over the message. He approached the woman to engage in a conversation about why she’d do this. You can read all about that over at SFGate here. Neighbors realize it’s her right to cover the rock as much as it’s theirs to paint it. So they decided that if they’d have to paint something new everyday, then that’s just what they’d have to do.

The note attached to the rock to explain that the person who was covering the artwork was found and her reason for doing it. (photo credit: Kseniya Makarova)

But while you’re here, take a look at more of the artwork painted on the rock at Bernal Heights Park and check out Kseniya’s Instagram @kseniya.co  Thanks to Kseniya and Micah for sharing their photos with 997now.com. They’re hoping all of this attention on the rock will inspire more people to help organizations working for people of color like City of Dreams SF, a mentorship program for low income youth in the City, and New Door Ventures, connecting youth with education and work opportunities. Your donations can really make an impact on the future for kids in the Bay Area.

“Until all of us are free, none of us are free”

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