Ben’s Probably Won’t but Still Ought To Do the Right Thing and Replace the Cosby Mural

Bens Mural
1213 U Street, NW taken at 2pm Monday

Folks have been noting their displeasure with the Cosby mural since at least 2014. In July of this year I said It’s Time For Ben’s Chili Bowl To Do The Right Thing – Take Down the Bill Cosby Mural. 83% of respondents agreed. In August we noted the Kim Jong Un posters were appearing all over town and in September they were kicked up a notch. Though NBC Washington now reports the Cosby mural has been restored:

“Shortly before 5 p.m. Monday, Kevin Irvine, who said he was friends with the mural artist went to the scene and removed the label of Kim’s face, restoring the mural to display Cosby again, News4’s Shomari Stone reported.”

Ed. Note: I don’t support defacing murals. It’s sad that Ben’s doesn’t, apparently, understand the insensitivity of leaving this portrait up. However, in my opinion it’s never OK to deface murals. There are other ways to encourage change that would be more fair to the original artist.

Also, there’s been some confusion about the Ben’s mural on U Street. Let me clear that up. It was completed in September 2012. In addition to Cosby there are portraits of Barack Obama, Donnie Simpson and Chuck Brown.

67 Comment

  • Ashy Oldlady

    With all due respect, the man hasn’t been convicted or even charged with anything at this point. So much for being presumed innocent until proven guilty. Now if he was in jail for sexual assault, I’d be appalled if they left it up.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      27% of the people polled agree with you Philippe!

    • He’s presumed innocent in a court of law, not in the court of public opinion. Any individual can believe the roughly 40 Cosby accusers and choose not to eat at Ben’s until they take the mural down.

    • Yes, except he’s admitted in his own testimony to drugging women in order to have sex with him (he just disagrees that this is in fact assault).

      • +100. The ship has sailed on Cosby’s presumption of innocence. He’s said flat out that he drugs the women he wants to sleep with and doesn’t see any problem with doing so.

        • I firmly believe that people who continue to think that Crosby isn’t guilty of rape after having admitted to rape under oath shouldn’t be allowed to function in society without strict supervision.

          • justinbc

            I would imagine many of them just aren’t aware of this detail (because they don’t follow celebrity “news”).

          • Actually, he admitted to getting prescriptions for Quaaludes with the intention of giving them to women he wanted to have sex with, but he did not admit to actually giving any Quaaludes to any of the women who have accused him of rape. He admitted giving drugs to one woman and said two women took the drugs consensually. Whether his story makes sense or not, that’s his story.

    • Do you need a court of law to identify despicable people for you? You can’t identify one on your own?

    • And Kim Jong Un has probably raped more people than Cosby is alledged to have, plus he kills people. Not a good joke if you ask me. It’s a privately owned business, not a government building, they can do whatever they want, you have a choice to not support the business if you disagree, this was vandalism for publicity.

      • Well hello there, rapist apologist. Not a single comment here commends Kim Jong being plastered over Crosby, yet you felt compelled to try to change the subject for some reason.

      • The photo of Kim Jung Un is actually derogatory. It’s meant to infantalize KJU in a similar to manner to his father’s treatment on South Park. No one, including the graffiti artist, is celebrating KJU.

        • The graffiti “artist”‘s justification/explanation for his stuff is pretty weak.
          There was an adulatory article in the Daily Beast on this guy not long ago, saying that he “hopes to raise awareness about the dire situation in the North, a ‘nightmare’ of proportions not seen since ‘Nazi Germany.’ Pasting images of concentration camps and starving children onto walls will ‘not really register’ with ‘the Instagram generation’ he seeks to influence; to use the parlance of social media, it won’t ‘carry’ in the same way as a be-thonged ‘Nicki Kimaj.’ ”
          The guy might fancy his work a “biting critique,” but it’s not. Banksy imitator FAIL.

    • Only because he is lucky to be out of the statue of limitations on all 40+ allegations…

    • He’ll never BE convicted of anything, Phillipe, bc the statute of limitations is long past on his alleged crimes. But there is no rational explanation for such an onslaught of accusations from women from all walks of life and many who put their careers and reputations on the line to come out with their humiliating stories. He assaulted those women (alleged, alleged, alleged! rolls @@ eyes) Even if HALF of them are liars (and again, we will never know!) that still leaves a massive margin of truth-tellers. He turns my stomach. “America’s Dad”. Screw that. I have a daddy. I don’t need to idolize a man whom played one on TV.

    • Great point! Neither were Hitler or Osoma Bin Laden! Do you think we could squeeze them on the mural? After all, they are officially “innocent”

  • It’s a personal decision of mine to simply not go to any Ben’s until this comes down. Not that I really like their food, but I have had some out of town guests who have wanted to go and I’ve talked them out of it. I honestly support and defend their right to keep it up, but I’ll continue to not spend a penny there and I encourage others to vote with their wallets as well.

    • You are doing yours stomach a favor by not going. You don’t need to take a stance on Cosby or Ben’s Chili to know that your stomach wants a break. LOL

    • retropean

      Just go to 7/11 for roughly the same thing a quarter of the cost

  • clevelanddave

    Some people don’t understand that BC has been a friend of the family of BCB for like 50 years and while you may have a family member do despicable things (as well as many wonderful things) he is still family. It is still their building and they — and only they — have a right to say it stays or goes. Bothers you that much? Don’t go there, vote with your feet.

    • He may be a friend of the family, but that doesn’t mean they need to plaster his picture on their business. I find it despicable. They are celebrating a rapist.

  • I’d love to see Bill Clinton up there with sunglasses on playing the sax.

  • justinbc

    I’m really shocked that this thing isn’t defaced on the regular. I guess the majority of graffiti artists are male?

  • Many in the elite circles of the Af-Am community held Bill Cosby up as a sacred cow for decades – he worked hard, achieved success, and preached the gospel of perseverance and self-determination. I think a lot of those folks have a hard time accepting the fact that he was a fraudulent predator the entire time. No one wants to admit that they were emotionally invested in and placed on a pedestal a man who was an utter hypocrite.
    The mural will eventually come down probably when the older generation of the Ben Ali clan fully hands off the reigns to a younger generation.

    • The converse to your observation is that many people in the elite circles of the African American community who take offense at any Black person of prominence who doesn’t blame every problem in the Black community on White racism have taken great delight in Cosby’s downfall.
      But whether Bill Cosby raped women or not has nothing to do with whether he was correct (and he was) in identifying many of the pathologies in certain segments of the Black community as being largely self-inflicted and in need of solutions from within the community.

      • As a member of an “elite circle in the African-American community,” I think that analysis of economic and social concerns within the community is more complex than either you or Bill Cosby acknowledge. Solutions will need to come from both within and outside the community. Of course, there are differences of opinion within the African-American community, as in any community. Some people agree with Ta-Nehisi Coates, others with Cornel West, Ben Carson, etc.

        FWIW, if it was my property, I would remove Cosby from the mural.

  • The only difference between what Cosby admitted to doing and the viscious attack in Hill East is a number of broken bones in the victim’s face. Continuing to support a self-admitted rapist is simply inexcusable. There’s a plethora of deserving role models to celebrate on your wall. Cosby isn’t one.

  • He’s been accused of rape – never convicted. I’m kind of troubled by historical revisionism. Do we take it down, rename highways and squares in the South…

    At the end of the day its a private building and you can do what you want.

    • Taking down murals of disgraced celebrities and renaming highways to honor people who did not fight to defend slavery are not examples of historical revisionism. They are examples of progress.

      Saying that Bill Cosby was never famous in the first place or that no highways had ever been named after Confederate officers would be historical revisionism. Do you see the difference?

    • I don’t see anyone arguing to restrict free speech here. Apples – bucket A. Oranges – bucket B.

    • We actually are removing the Confederate flag from public places, taking down the statues, and renaming the public squares. We’ve seen a lot of acceleration on these efforts in the past year because there’s public pressure. People are progressing on the issue because, hey, we shouldn’t celebrate people who upheld slavery and the division of the Union.
      I’d guess that there’s a lot of overlap between Cosby defenders and those who see nothing wrong with the Redskins name. Peas in the same pod.
      So yes, let’s progress by stopping the glorification of individuals who were shown to be predators.

      • +1

      • justinbc

        I would say the bigger corollary to make here is that much of that change is driven by legislators giving in to public opinion because they fear it will hurt them negatively when it comes to getting votes, as could possibly be said for a business wanting to remove a controversial mural because it might hurt them negatively by causing reduced traffic. If I had to guess, I would say that the majority of Ben’s U Street location business comes from two demographics: 1) inebriated late night revelers in search of something to soak up the booze, and 2) tourists who are told by every guide book and website imaginable that this is the one bit of authentic food culture that DC has and it’s a must visit destination. The first demographic you really can’t do anything about, the second you can apply pressure to change their publications, if your pressure directly on Ben’s isn’t working.

        • I could see a tourist seeing that giant mural and turning their business away. I guess it only serves as a disincentive for tourists coming east on U.

    • He’s been accused by more than 50 women. Is it really your assertion that all of them are lying? Or that their word is somehow less credible than Cosby’s because they are not household names?

    • I am not calling anyone a liar, nor discounting the overwhelming evidence/corroboration by the victims. However, I am troubled by historical revisionism. I’m honestly torn – take it down or leave it up? I can see valid reasons on both sides.

    • That’s the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard. Should Germany have left up statues of Hitler? Should Russia leave up statues of Stalin?

  • Ben’s has a deep connection with Bill Cosby. If the ownership chooses to stand by him despite the evidence to the contrary, they are entitled to do so. And anyone who is that concerned about this issue is free to eat somewhere else.

    • I don’t eat at Ben’s anyway, and it just depresses me during my commute. I’m not saying that I can do anything else. This comment is more of a general lament. Especially since on the other end of my commute is giant Trump signs. Sigh.

  • If you don’t like the mural of Cosby don’t look at it or pony up the money to replace it.

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