Workers begin removal of mural they mistook for graffiti

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A popular street mural in Seminole Heights was accidentally removed Thursday morning by city workers who apparently mistook it for graffiti.

“We all worked on it together some people did the edges and it brought the community together,” said 12-year-old Aida Castelli, who helped paint the mural.

It's called a Mandala and was the first and only street mural in the city of Tampa. Artist Catherine Thomas helped create the functional art across from Rivercrest Park.

“It was meant to bring the community together and slow people down at the park,” said Castelli.

But Thursday morning, the city's graffiti abatement team mistakenly started removing it, not realizing it was authorized work. 

They didn’t notice the plaque right next to the piece, meant to explain its importance.

“I realized they thought it was graffiti but I wouldn't think its graffiti cause that’s the first mural Tampa has had,” Castelli said.

The city has acknowledged the graphics gaffe and is vowing to bring it back to life.     

“I’m 100 percent confident the city is going to do what it has to do to rectify the situation,” said Stephen Lytle, President of the South Seminole Heights Civic Association.

Mayor Buckhorn joked about the situation in a tweet: "Yeah...not many art majors on our graffiti abatement team."