This Lib Artist Won't Call the Police if You Steal Her Paintings

Despite feeling 'violated' by the theft, AnaYelsi Velasco-Sanchez insists 'engaging with police is much more violent'

October 2, 2023

What happened: AnaYelsi Velasco-Sanchez, a radical left-wing IndoLatinx artist whose work focuses on "justice" and "liberation," was living the dream at her first solo exhibition in Washington, D.C., until a thief ran off with two of her paintings.

• "I feel violated, and I’m grieving the lost art, but mostly I’m feeling shocked at the boldness and thoughtlessness of entering a community space, and stealing art that is all about justice and liberation," Velasco-Sanchez wrote in an Instagram post announcing the theft.

• One of the stolen paintings, valued at $200 each, was titled Bountiful: The Land of Thoughts and Prayers. It dealt with "gun violence and state sanctioned violence in the United States," the artist said on TikTok, a Chinese spyware app and social media platform.

Bountiful: The Land of Thoughts and Prayers

What happened next: Despite being "heartbroken" about the stolen paintings, Velasco-Sanchez refused to call the cops because she is a self-described police "abolitionist" who does "not engage with law enforcement."

• "I'm not willing to call them," the artist told WTOP News. "For me, the harm that comes out of engaging with police is much more violent than anything that has occurred." She went on to speculate that the thief "might have been an avid art-lover."

• Velasco-Sanchez has even declined offers from friends to contact the police on her behalf. "There is a strong misconception in our country and in D.C. that police keep us safe, solve crimes and recover stolen property," she said. "None of those are true. I have more faith in my community rallying than I do in law enforcement doing anything."

Bottom line: The paintings have yet to be recovered.