SALT LAKE CITY — Local artists have, once again, restored a mural of George Floyd after the downtown portrait was defaced with black tar overnight.
The mural, painted on the side of a building at 300 West and 800 South, was created by an anonymous group of local artists in early June to honor Floyd, who was killed by police in Minneapolis last month. The incident sparked protests against police brutality across the country and world.
Over the weeks, the mural has grown – now featuring six portraits, five of whom lost their lives due to police brutality here in Utah: Bernardo Palacios, Dillon Taylor, Darrien Hunt, Bryan Pena Valencia and Chad Breinholt.
Contributing artists told FOX 13 the murals were created to help educate the public.
Sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning, the centerpiece painting of Floyd was vandalized with black tar for a second time.
"It's really telling that they're coming and doing this at night — it shows a level of cowardice," one artist helping to fix the mural told FOX 13. "We are actually all here in the middle of the day doing something that maybe is not sanctioned or allowed, but we're doing it anyway because we believe it's right."
The artist added that seeing the mural defaced shows that racism is prevalent in Salt Lake City, but it won't keep them from continuing the project. They plan to continue to add portraits of people who were killed by police until there is no more room on the building.
"We're going to try and represent as many as we can because they deserve the recognition, and some of these families are still fighting for justice," the artist said.
After the tar was chipped away, and the mural repainted, citizens who saw the vandalism came to pay their respects.
“I don’t know any of these people personally,” said Shyla Lonewolf as she stared up at the one-story tall pieces of art. “This is the closest I will even get to looking in their eyes.”
Shyla saw an image of the mural for the first time Sunday morning on social media.
“I didn’t even know it existed and I just wanted to pay my respects,” Shyla continued. “To see that happen to this mural just broke my heart.”
Shyla said she wanted to replace some of the items that were removed while the mural was being restored.
She placed a small bundle of bright blue flowers beneath each of the paintings and left a poster board with a message under the mural of Floyd.
“Skin color is not reasonable suspicion, black lives matter,” she said as she read her sign aloud.
Shyla wasn’t the only one who was motivated to come because of the vandalism.
“It just made me sad that someone felt that was an appropriate thing at all to, one, disrespect someone that was a victim and was killed,” said Shannon Donnelly as she stood next to her young son, Orion.
“I wanted to bring [Orion] so we could honor them and just understand the movement and what it is,” Shannon continued.
“I’m really glad the artist took the time to re-do it, because it’s such a beautiful piece and something I hope will stay in Salt Lake forever,” Shyla added.
As of now, it is unknown who is responsible for the acts of vandalism.