Bill Cosby, Ben's Chili Bowl and alleged rape: Should the mural come down?

D.C. locals debate whether one of the few remaining tributes to the embattled comedian should remain

By Timothy Bella and Ryan Loughlin

WASHINGTON — Along Washington, D.C.’s legendary U Street, Bill Cosby’s expression is hard to miss painted across the brick wall on the east side of Ben’s Chili Bowl, the greasy spoon renowned for its chili dogs. Other African-American heroes of the nation’s capital, such as President Barack Obama, Chuck Brown, the “godfather of Go-Go,” and radio host Donnie Simpson, join Cosby, but only the comedian’s face is totally rendered at street level. It’s a smirk that’s been burned into the American subconscious, whether from “The Cosby Show,” years of standup routines, commercials or his charitable pursuits.

“I wanted to capture the warmest feel, the warmest look for that particular mural,” says Aniekan Udofia, a popular D.C. street artist who produced the mural for Ben’s in 2012.

But the warm comfort that used to come from the grin of a man now labeled “America’s greatest serial rapist” is gone.

Olivier Douliery/Sipa USA via AP Images

Olivier Douliery/Sipa USA via AP Images