A controversial mural of George Floyd in Phoenix has been painted over.
The mural depicted Floyd’s face on a $20 bill, with the hashtag ‘#the_price_of_black_lives’ hanging above his head.
The $20 bill was in reference to the counterfeit bill Floyd allegedly used on May 25, 2020, prior to his arrest and death at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin, who was recently convicted of Floyd’s murder.
But the mural sparked outrage among some in the community and was recently defaced, prompting its removal from downtown Phoenix on Friday morning.
The George Floyd mural painted in Phoenix is no longer there after being painted over Friday
Artist Jeremie ‘Bacpac’ Franko painted the mural in Phoenix last year to spark a conversation
Phoenix artist Jeremie ‘Bacpac’ Franko, who painted the mural on a block wall on Oak Street, covered it in beige paint.
‘I have to do what white people are not able to do very well and that is give up the platform,’ Franko said to the Arizona Republic.
The defeat came after some community activists decried the mural for its traumatizing capabilities and lack of input from black community members.
‘This is a mural designed by white people that celebrates white violence,’ resident Kelvin West said. ‘It creates a space for black people to continue to be traumatized.’
The artist has seen her work defaced and criticized by black members of the community
Pictured: Kelvin West, one of the community members who spoke out against the mural
‘The mural came out of nowhere, not one black person was involved in the making of this mural, putting it together or designing it,’ West added. ‘The mural came out of nowhere, not one black person was involved in the making of this mural, putting it together or designing it.’
Franko’s intention in painting the mural was starting a conversation in the city.
‘Every time I do a mural, I want to start a conversation,’ Franko said. ‘I want people to say what does that mean?
‘This is about the story that we don’t hear, that these cops thought that this guy deserves to be killed over an allegedly counterfeit $20 bill. This guy wasn’t hurting anybody.’
Of her particular mural, Franko added, ‘To me, it was the symbolism that that’s the price of a black life?’
‘I have to do what white people are not able to do very well and that is give up the platform,’ Franko said after taking down the mural
It took Franko 13 hours to paint the mural last June, which she did for free. But on March 29, the mural was defaced.
Vandals put Xs over the eyes and mouth of Floyd and scribbled ‘FENTANYL’ on his forehead, implying that the drug was responsible for Floyd’s death and not Chauvin’s knee.
Franko spent four and a half hours fixing the mural the next morning, vowing to fix it every time it was defaced.
‘You want to do it again? I’m right here. I’m going to fix it,’ Franko said to Phoenix New Times. ‘You don’t get to hijack the message. You don’t get to take away the honor of this man and his family. I’m going to fix it every time.’
The defacement of the mural only served to create more problems for West and other community members, though.
‘The mural got defaced, which created an opportunity for more black trauma,’ West said.
After the mural was removed on Friday, some took to Twitter to celebrate its demise.
‘Good, it should have never been there in the first place,’ Ronnie Norton wrote of the mural.
‘Poor judgment by the painter,’ another user added.
Whether or not the mural’s removal changes the conversation in the Coronado neighborhood remains to be seen, though.
‘As a black person living in this neighborhood over five years, combating racism almost on a daily basis, having caused me depression and having to heal, this neighborhood is not a safe space for Black people,’ West told the Arizona Republic.
Murals for George Floyd have attracted unwanted attention recently, especially in the wake of Chauvin’s conviction almost two weeks ago.
In Houston, a mural was defaced with the words ‘N**** lives don’t matter’ just days after the conviction.
‘As a human, it’s just wrong to do something like that; knowing that we’re healing and knowing that we’re in pain as a community,’ artist Daniel Anguili told KHOU 11.