Tucson Oddity: '80s UA graffiti cleanup left lasting message

2011-08-08T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T11:55:12Z Tucson Oddity: '80s UA graffiti cleanup left lasting messageAndrea Rivera Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 08, 2011 12:00 am  • 

If you frequent the UA campus, you've probably walked by it hundreds of times without even knowing it's there.

Inscribed on the east side of the Old Chemistry Building's facade are the words "BOBBY SANDS LIVES."

A chemistry professor who arrived at the University of Arizona in 1988 said the story on campus is that someone spray-painted the words on the building above the ground-floor windows in the 1980s.

In the process of removing "BOBBY SANDS LIVES" with a sandblaster, it was etched into the building and preserved permanently, professor Robin Polt said.

The vandal who defaced the Old Chemistry building likely wasn't some prankster named Bobby Sands.

In May 1981, an Irish Republican Army political prisoner, Bobby Sands, died on the 66th day of a hunger strike in an Ireland prison, prompting protests and demonstrations and pro-Sands graffiti across the world. Sometime after Sands died, the Old Chemistry Building was hit with "BOBBY SANDS LIVES."

"When I first saw it, I thought it was a 'Bobby Loves Susie' type of thing," said Scott Dreisbach, laboratory manager for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Nobody in the department recalls when the graffiti first appeared because it was so long ago, said Dreisbach, who has been at the UA for 12 years.

"I don't know that there's anything magical about it. Someone screwed up, and now everybody remembers it," he said.

Contact reporter Andrea Rivera at arivera@azstarnet.com or 807-8430.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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