EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A group of migrant advocates based in San Antonio called an urgent press conference Thursday, Dec. 29, at Sacred Heart Church due to EPPD taking down a mural depicting the journey of migrants in Downtown El Paso.

The City of El Paso has since then responded, stating that the group made various statements about the city and police. According to city leaders, the City Police Department received several complaints from migrants and church officials about the mural, asking for it to be removed due to it being offensive. The mural is said to depict monkeys and Russian President Vladmir Putin brandishing a gun.

According to city leaders, El Paso Police then asked for the mural to be taken down to which the owner of the images declined. The mural was then removed by El Paso Environmental staff who were working in the area as part of the city’s daily hygiene and clean-up efforts. The City of El Paso has previously reported about the community seeing a rise in Covid-19, RSV, the Flu and other illnesses. For this reason, the city has been working to reduce the risk of diseases found in discarded clothes, blankets, and food left behind migrants, according to city leaders.

City leaders also add that they have received an increase in complaints from local residents and businesses near Sacred Heart Church regarding drug use, drug paraphilia, harassment, intimidation, and littering. To address these concerns, law enforcement officials are increasing patrols within the area.