Cause for controversy?

Casuse mural may return to Gallup sidewalk

GALLUP

Submitted
This potter was removed from the sidewalk in front of the law office of Barry Klopfer in downtown Gallup. It features the late Larry Casuse
and the date when he was shot and killed by police after abducting the mayor in 1973.

The city of Gallup got a complaint about a trash can and acted promptly to remove the offending receptacle.

But it turned out it wasn’t a trash can but a planter, which the city removed on April 5. The city said they got a complaint about the planter regarding a mural painted on it, which had a revolutionary theme and the image of the late Larry Casuse.

Barry Klopfer, a lawyer, sponsored the mural as part of a Business Improvement District project. Recently he said he received word that the city plans to return the planter.

“I think that one way or another, Mr. Casuse will come back,” Klopfer said.

What image created such a controversy?

Ric Sarracino painted the mural. He said he has painted Navajo men with tomahawks, an image of a woman with an AK-47, and the likeness of Casuse on the planter at the request of Klopfer.

“Barry’s kind of a radical,” Sarracino said.

The mural contained revolutionary imagery and recalled an incident from the history of Gallup that apparently drew a complaint to the city.

“I like controversy,” Sarracino said. “I like things to be talked about.”

The mural got people talking about the 1973 incident when Casuse kidnapped then-Mayor Emmett Garcia in an attempt to hold the mayor – also a liquor store owner – accountable for the number of liquor licenses the city issued and alcohol-related deaths of Diné.

Police shot Casuse in the incident, killing the University of New Mexico student.

“I basically know the story,” said Sarracino.

He depicted the story on the planter and understood why it could cause controversy but not why the city reacted by removing the piece completely.

“I thought it was kind of stupid,” he said. “It’s art. It’s history.”


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About Author

Christopher S. Pineo

Reporter Christopher S. Pineo's beats include education, construction, the executive branch, and pop culture. He also administers the Navajo Times Facebook page. In the diverse neighborhoods of Boston, Pineo worked, earned a master’s in journalism, and gained 10 years of newspaper experience. He can be reached at Chrisp@navajotimes.com.