GREENBURGH, New York (WABC) -- It took nearly two years of planning and the artwork is only half done, but the wall of a Black Lives Matter mural completed two weeks ago is sparking controversy in Greenburgh.
The 2,500-square-foot project depicts dozens of influential Black leaders - among them Louis Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam, who the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as an Anti-Semite.
Cliffton Abrams is the community activist who spearheaded the project. The massive mural lines the Manhattan Avenue underpass of I-287.
The Greenburgh Town Board is spending $100,000 for the transformation, which will include lighting, security cameras, landscaping and Wi-Fi for visitors to access background information. However, the town board, which reviewed renderings of the artwork - say Farrakhan's is surprise and was never discussed.
"We love Minister Farrakhan - he's an icon," said Abrams.
In a statement, the Westchester Jewish Council called Farrakhan's imagery hurtful, adding, 'he is one of the country's most prominent anti-Semites. His long public history of anti-Jewish and other bigoted comments makes his inclusion in this project completely improper.'
Abrams says he believes some of Farrakhan's comments were taken out of context and points out that history is full of flawed leaders.
The town says Farrakhan's image will be painted over next week, but Abrams is meeting with Black political leaders and is exploring the possibility of raising money to reimburse the town - to leave the mural as is.
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