CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Black Lives Matter mural on Cleveland’s East side was vandalized with messages written across several of the streetwide letters.
Photos submitted to 19 News show messages like “Stop killing each other” and “BLM is Marxist.”
Council member Blaine Griffin released a photo of the person suspected of damaging the mural and a lengthy message regarding the vandalism:
“I am somewhat shocked that a man, apparently possessing some pent-up anger, would boldly step out in broad daylight to deface the newly painted “Black Lives Matter” mural on East 93rd Street. The mural is a community effort, calling for justice and raising the issue of institutional racism.
Nearby residents have taken pictures of a middle aged African-American male defacing the mural by writing over it with messages not consistent with the unifying message the mural represents.
I am extremely disappointed and outraged that someone is so selfish to push his own agenda -- one that is demeaning to the greater community. This man has no right to disregard the artistic expression created by hundreds of artists and community volunteers.
There is also a false narrative put out, saying there were nearby police sleeping while the mural was being vandalized. I have not seen any evidence to prove that nor have the residents. There has been a very limited police presence. Police have been socializing with residents, playing with the children and coming to enjoy the mural themselves. It is so unfortunate that other people who clearly have different agendas would try to tarnish this project.
We will keep the street closed until the morning of Monday, July 6th. We will restore the mural to reflect its original intent and expose anyone who wants to damage it. We will also continue to embrace the visitors that have come to visit the mural. People have come from as far as New York and Washington, D.C., to see the painted street mural. Many groups have bussed in children and various groups including churches, sororities and fraternities. We will continue to have activities to shine a positive light on East 93rd. On Sunday, July 5th, we will host the Line Dance King, Robert Johnson, Jr. at 5:00 pm. We will encourage masks be worn and be safe and physically distant.
A message to this individual:
You do not have the right to make your opinion more important than the rest of us. We will not allow your selfishness and disrespect for this community to be a distraction from this unifying message. It is not about you. It is about the collective community. The “Gravity of this Moment” has caused many of us to use this as a time for introspection and self-reflection about how we can be part of the solution and demand change. This Black Lives Matter mural means a lot to this community and you need to respect that.”
“Guess I have to buy some paint and touch up these beautiful works today,” Ricky Smith, one of the project’s creators, wrote on Twitter.
The mural was installed by dozens of volunteer artists who were inspired by similar works of art throughout the country following the death of George Floyd.
Cleveland police say East 93rd Street near Union Avenue will remain closed at the site of the mural through the weekend until July 6.
19 News will have more updates on this story throughout the day.