Brief

George Floyd mural in Milwaukee vandalized

By: - October 27, 2022 5:41 am
The George Floyd mural in Milwaukee, vandalized by an unknown person. (Photo | Isiah Holmes)

The George Floyd mural in Milwaukee, vandalized by an unknown person. (Photo | Isiah Holmes)

A mural of George Floyd, whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked nationwide protests in 2020, was vandalized sometime before Tuesday in Milwaukee. The mural was created by a collective of artists during the summer of protest which followed Floyd’s death in late May 2020.

The vandalism came after news broke regarding the fate of two of the officers who were involved in Floyd’s death. On Monday, former Minneapolis officer Jay Alexander Kueng accepted a deal to plead guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s killing. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a murder charge against the former officer. Kueng must serve at least two-thirds of a 42-month prison term, and will not pay a fine.

The area around the George Floyd mural in Milwaukee. (Photo | Isiah Holmes)
The area around the George Floyd mural in Milwaukee. (Photo | Isiah Holmes)

Another former officer who was charged in connection to Floyd’s killing, Tu Thao, waved his right to a jury. Instead, Thao will undergo a stipulated bench trial where a judge will weigh existing evidence against him. Both officers are already serving federal prison terms after being convicted of depriving Floyd of his constitutional rights. Kueng helped restrain Floyd as former officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes. Thao kept concerned citizens at bay, as they begged the officers to get Floyd medical attention and filmed the killing.

Domonique Whitehurst, one of the artists who created the mural, was appalled by the vandalism. A painted image of Floyd’s face had been splashed with gray paint. It wasn’t the first time the mural has been damaged. Whitehurst told Wisconsin Examiner that at one point, a section of the mural that said “Free Palestine” was specifically damaged.

Whitehurst said he found out through social media. The mural can be easily restored, he said, and work could be finished  Wednesday. “Hopefully they can find the person that did this,” said Whitehurst. “Honestly it shouldn’t be that hard, but it’s unfortunate.” Although Whithurst wasn’t aware of the developments with Kueng and Thao, he feels there’s a lot of racial tensions in the state including various incidents of racism that have escalated since the administration of former President Donald Trump. “It could be any of those things that could be why this happened,” Whitehurst said. “It could be all related. It feels like it’s related.”

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Isiah Holmes
Isiah Holmes

Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Holmes' video work dates back to his high school days at Wauwatosa East High, when he made a documentary about the local police department. Since then, his writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, the Progressive Magazine, Al Jazeera, and other outlets. He was also featured in the 2018 documentary The Chase Key, and was the recipient of the Sierra Club Great Waters Group 2021 Environmental Hero of the Year award. The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council also awarded Holmes its 2021-2022 Media Openness Award for using the open records laws for investigative journalism. Holmes was also a finalist in the 2021 Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards alongside the rest of the Wisconsin Examiner's staff. The Silver, or second place, award for Best Online Coverage of News was awarded to Holmes and his colleague Henry Redman for an investigative series into how police responded to the civil unrest and protests in Kenosha during 2020. Holmes was also awarded the Press Club's Silver (second-place) award for Public Service Journalism for articles focusing on police surveillance in Wisconsin.

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