News & Politics

Petition asks Ben’s Chili Bowl to Replace Bill Cosby Mural

Photograph by Flickr user Ted Eytan.

Outrage over the Bill Cosby mural at Ben’s Chili Bowl isn’t going away. Last week, the street artist Smear Leader defaced the rendering with a sticker of Kim Jong-un, and now there’s a petition to help get the Cosby mural replaced “with one that celebrates women and their accomplishments.”

So far the online petition, co-created by DC resident Devin Boyle, has only 94 signatures. Her campaign is reaching people far beyond the District—she’s snagged signers from places like Canada and Australia. Still, she hopes to gain more local support for the cause.

“I don’t want us as Washingtonians to be complacent and let this pass as another thing that one person was passionate about and everybody else let it go in the ether,” says Boyle, who plans to put Kickstarter funds toward hiring a celebrated artist to repaint the mural.

Boyle has also written two recent editorials in the Washington Post, including one that says “we can do better” than Smear Leader’s response. “The Kim Jong-un sticker will not soothe the feelings evoked by the mural,” she writes.

Boyle, who says that at one point she’d purchased supplies with the intent of vandalizing the mural herself, clarified that while she admires Smear Leader’s sentiment and bold intentions, she is more interested in going the diplomatic route: drumming up public interest for painting over Cosby’s face and then working directly with restaurant owners’ the Ali family to get it done.

“I know that a lot of people have had trouble connecting with them because they have generations of respect for Bill Cosby,” says Boyle regarding the Ali family, who have not yet responded to a request for comment. “They probably feel attacked, and I don’t want them to feel that way.”