RAFU STAFF REPORT
Erick Gomez is scheduled to plead no contest and be sentenced on Wednesday for his role in the vandalism of the “Home Is Little Tokyo” mural at Japanese Village Plaza on Central Avenue on June 10, 2018.
Gomez was found guilty of a violation of Penal Code section 594(a), for the graffiti vandalism. He will receive three years of summary probation and 30 days of community labor in the form of graffiti removal, according to Rob Wilcox, director of Community Engagement and Outreach for City Attorney Mike Feuer. He is also ordered to pay restitution at the rate of $100 per month and probation conditions mandate he will never write or type his graffiti moniker in any medium, not to own, use or possess any graffiti tools, and to submit to search anytime by any law enforcement officer including providing the passwords to all his social media sites.
The sentencing will take place in Department 52 of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
Gomez was one of a team of four taggers that defaced the mural, according to the City Attorney’s Office. A camera installed above the mural captured images of the taggers. The other three suspects remain at large.
The incident sparked outrage in the historic Japantown. Completed in 2005, the mural was the culmination of three years’ work by a team led by muralists Tony Osumi, Sergio Diaz and Jorge Diaz, and project managers Nancy Kikuchi and Takao Suzuki. More than 500 people helped to paint the mural, which features scenes of Japanese American life and history, including images of redress, the Asian American movement and mochitsuki.
The mural, which was restored and rededicated in May, also stands as a testament to two of its creators who passed away after its completion: Nancy Kikuchi, who died in 2014 at 52 years old, and Sergio Diaz, who died last December at 48 years old.
Brian Kito of Little Tokyo Public Safety Association said he is planning to attend the sentencing. He noted that the families of Kikuchi and Diaz have been informed and he hopes the judge will allow community members and families to make statements.
“Need to shame this guy as far down as we can,” Kito said.