Murals painted during New York City George Floyd protests preserved

Kemberly Richardson Image
Thursday, October 22, 2020
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Kemberly Richardson reports on the murals that were painted all around New York City during and after large protests over the death of George Floyd and the efforts to preserve them.

INWOOD, Manhattan (WABC) -- Murals were painted all around New York City during and after large protests over the death of George Floyd, and it was believed most would be washed away, lost to history.

But on Thursday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer teamed up with the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, GreenThumb, and NYC Parks to preserve those that were painted on Dyckman Street storefronts during the racial justice and police reform demonstrations.

Local artists adorned the plywood that covered the shuttered businesses with extraordinary expressions of hope, healing, solidarity, and activism, and the works have remained on display outside Lt. William Tighe Triangle, home of the Riverside Inwood Neighborhood Garden, where they have continued to provoke and inspire neighbors and visitors alike.

Now, Brewer has arranged for temporary remote storage while future plans for the works of art that record Inwood's solidarity with the national conversation around racial justice are finalized.

"This was a moment in time that we captured," artist Daniel Bonilla said. "I think to be able to preserve it and show it to in the future is awesome."

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Thousands of protesters hit the streets in what was an ugly time, but out of such darkness came light -- in the form of art.

"To me, it felt like we were the guardians of the neighborhood," artist Jesus Santana said. "The art absolutely helped stop any crime, because so many people were in the streets painting and watching out for their community for others to come and loot."

Artists created the raw, real images on plywood that was used during the demonstrations to board up countless businesses across the city.

Bonilla grew up in Inwood and created several pieces that were relocated as part of the project. GreenThumb and NYC Parks arranged for them to be transported to a storage facility in Midtown Manhattan.

"It would be lovely to have them situated throughout the city for a walking tour, so that people can see what a vibrant community this is," said Niria Leyva-Gutierrez, with the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance.

Related: Prosecutors in George Floyd case asks for new court filings to be temporarily sealed

Artists were creating similar projects at the same time all across the city, some even out of chalk. Many of those have also been taken down and preserved.

"We can't ever forget what we went through," Brewer said. "And to me, art is always the best way to show our perspective."

As Bonilla put it, making magic at a time of madness.

"It makes people think," he said. "And I think that's the best part of the whole situation."


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