Minneapolis Activists Look To Preserve George Floyd Murals

Written by Madison J. Gray

Black Lives Matter murals and paintings have been displayed in cities across the nation as demonstrators outraged by police killings have created public art reflecting their feelings.

But many of the projects were defaced by counter protesters, some of which have gone as far as pouring paint over the murals on streets and walls in various communities. 

However, in Minneapolis, one of the epicenters of the social protests where artwork lines the streets in honor of George Floyd, efforts are being made to preserve the artwork.

Because of vandalism, some artwork has been taken down in order to thwart further destruction. But two activists in Minneapolis, Leesa Kelly and Kenda Zeller-Smith, who were inspired by the art, have reportedly launched an effort to preserve it called “Memorialize the Movement.”

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“[These] beautiful elaborate murals have been an expression of grief. It’s been a way for Black people to cope with what’s happening, and to express their pain, their anger and the hope that they have for a better America, for a better Minneapolis,” Kelly told ABC News.

Zellner-Smith said she has put forth an effort to have businesses donate the artwork and has collected 40 of the pieces, created on plywood boards, and stored them in a warehouse. She says she hopes to find a permanent home for the pieces.

“I feel like that art just deserves to be here and serve as a reminder of our power as a community,” she said, noting that all of the artwork, not just the popular pieces were important because those were what “really started my healing process.”

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Kelly says she has also collected 30 to 40 boards, which comprise about seven large pieces. She said that the artwork needs to be preserved so that the story of Floyd, who died May 25 at the hands of Minneapolis police and those of the others who died in similar situations will not be forgotten.

The former officers in the Floyd case are currently facing charges in connection with his death. Derek Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, while the three others who responded with him; Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

Meanwhile, Kelly and Zellner-Smith say they would like to be sure the murals are preserved in a way that people continue to understand the gravity of the situation.

“We need the story told in a way that people will absorb it,” Kelly told ABC News. “But not in a way that makes them feel comfortable, they don’t need to feel comfortable. They need to know what’s happening.”

BET has been covering every angle of the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and other social justice cases and the subsequent aftermath and protests. For our continuing coverage, click here.

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