People who drive or walk along the popular U Street NW corridor have long encountered a large mural of Bill Cosby’s face outside Ben’s Chili Bowl — a mural that the owners of the local landmark have refused to remove amid accusations that the actor raped dozens of women and revelations in court documents in which Cosby admitted that he intended to give drugs to women with whom he wanted to have sex.
Now there’s a face on that wall of another unpopular figure: Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea’s totalitarian regime.
Someone who goes by the name Smear Leader on Instagram took credit for the defacement Monday. He is known for putting stickers of the North Korean leader elsewhere in the city, including on random street signs and, in a more political statement, on the logo of a Washington Redskins football helmet. The local Borderstan blog first noted the vandalism.
Sonya Ali, who helps to run Ben’s with her husband, said Monday that the restaurant was “not prepared to talk about it at this time.”
“Smear Leader” did not immediately return a request for comment, and it is unclear if the sticker will cause permanent damage to the mural. A D.C. police spokesperson said at 1 p.m. that authorities didn’t yet have a report of vandalism at that location.
Cosby is a longtime supporter of the historic establishment and the restaurant has touted its relationship with the celebrity, including when he moderated Ben’s Chili Bowl’s 55th anniversary event.
In March 2014, Cosby attended the grand opening of the restaurant’s Virginia outpost in Arlington. Cosby and the Obamas are famously the only people who eat for free at Ben’s.
Back in November, the restaurant said Cosby was “family” and it had no plans to remove the mural or renege on Cosby’s free food.
But, when Ben’s new H Street NE location opened in July, the restaurant appeared to be wrestling with how it wanted to handle its relationship with Cosby.
“There is a presence of Cosby there,” Vida Ali, daughter-in-law of the founders and spokeswoman for Ben’s Chili Bowl, told the Post in July. “There is his presence as there is presence of other celebrities.”