China protests Corvallis mural
CORVALLIS, Ore. - When walking past the old Corvallis MicroTechnology building downtown, passersby cannot help but notice a new piece of artwork.
"It's a little more bolder in contrast to what I'm used to seeing in Corvallis," said Rio Smith, a resident of Corvallis who passed by the mural.
It's a huge 10-foot by 100-foot mural with brightly colored images spanning across the building's facade.
Images on the mural portray police beating Tibetan demonstrators and other violent responses to protest of Chinese rule.
Taiwanese-American businessman David Lin decided to create a mural on his soon-to-be restaurant depicting a message that promotes independence for Taiwan and Tibet.
"I was born in Taiwan, and we had a similar type of jail and torture in Taiwan in about 1948," Lin said.
Lin said his relative and friend were put in jail and beaten for no reason in China.
"Right now, it's really important to make Americans aware that China is a real threat," Lin said.
According to city officials, Chinese students at Oregon State saw the images on the mural and found them offensive.
In early August, the Chinese Consulate General wrote a letter to the mayor of Corvallis asking the mural be taken down.
Two Chinese officials also met with Mayor Julie Manning. She explained to them that the U.S. Constitution promises freedom of political speech to everyone in the U.S., including artists.
"There really was an understanding of their perspective and the concerns they have but also an appreciation of where we live," Manning said.
Manning also wrote a letter saying explaining how the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, even if you don't like the message.
Lin said he is still a bit concerned about the heat he's getting from the mural.
"Yes, I'm scared but now is not the time for me to back down, it's not," Lin said. "I need to stand on my own feet no matter what."