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Family saw swastikas all over neighborhood sidewalks, so they covered them with chalk art

When these parents and their daughter saw swastikas in her neighborhood, they had an idea.

Taylor Coffman knows a lot about making the best of a bad situation. It’s why recently, when faced with the hostile images of swastikas drawn on the walls and sidewalks of her neighborhood, the 43-year-old reached for the chalk.

“It was a lot, maybe a dozen swastikas just scrawled with marker all the way to our street,” Coffman recalls to of the symbol, which has become widely recognized for its association with Nazi ideology and antisemitism.

Coffman and her 39-year-old husband, Zachary Lupetin, spotted the graffiti last week during their routine weekend stroll from the farmer’s market in Santa Monica, California, with their 2-year-old daughter, July.

Taylor Coffman
Zachary Lupetin, Taylor Coffman and their daughter.Courtesy Taylor Coffman

“It was just so many, and I remember just feeling deeply disturbed,” Coffman recalls, adding that she decided to take action by reporting the hate symbols to the police.Unfortunately, when she checked the following day, the hateful symbols remained untouched.

“I just wanted to do something about it,” she says, recalling the moment she found a solution while watching her daughter joyfully playing with chalk outside their home.

“She makes hearts and flowers and butterflies with hearts all the time on the sidewalk right in front of our house. I was like, ‘Let’s go and color over the marks with chalk.’”

Determined to spread messages of love and positivity, Coffman and Lupetin took July to trace back their steps and cover the swastikas.

One by one, Coffman and July drew over the symbols’ crude lines. The two meticulously covered the graffiti with colors and flowers and wrote messages of joy and encouragement like “Love Lives Here.” Coffman was determined to spare others from the discomfort she felt the day before when encountering the symbols.Meanwhile, Lupetin captured their efforts on his phone, eager to share the beauty of his wife and daughter’s actions with others.

“I just felt proud,” he says. “When you’re married, and you come from very different backgrounds, sometimes, you know, you don’t agree on everything, but I think we definitely feel like this was the right thing to do. And I think it’s nice that people have been lifted up a little bit by it.”

Taylor Coffman
Taylor Coffman with her daughter.Courtesy Taylor Coffman

On April 7, Lupetin uploaded the video on TikTok. Almost within a week, the video had received nearly 500 thousand views and 1,500 of comments.

One user commented, “This is the picture of being the change you want to see in the world.”

Taylor Koffman
The family of three covered swastikas in their neighborhood with chalk art.Courtesy Taylor Coffman

Lupetin wasn’t at all surprised by his wife’s act of redefining the story. According to Lupetin, Coffman’s determination has helped their family endure difficult circumstances in the past.In 2022, shortly after giving birth to her daughter, Coffman was diagnosed with Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (aHUS). According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, the rare disease causes tiny blood clots to form in the body’s small blood vessels, resulting from a blend of genetic and environmental factors. 

Taylor experienced organ failure in her heart and kidneys, along with blood clots in all her major organs. She battled severe sepsis and toxic shock.

“I think my life’s work is making lemons into lemonade,” she explains. “I had a very, very terrible rare disease, and I often say, ‘I didn’t come back to life to ‘dot, dot dot.’”

When it came to the swastikas, she says her mantra became, “I didn’t come back to life to live someone just like spread hate in my neighborhood like this.”

Coffman and Lupetin both hope that their recent efforts with their daughter will remind people of the world they ought to be able to live in.

“Imagine a world where every time you saw an act of hate, you matched it up with an act of love in your own community with your own family or, you know, even a chalk drawing outside your house,” Coffman says. “Imagine that world. I stayed alive to live in that world.”