A mural of George Floyd in his hometown of Houston was vandalized with a racist message this week, police said – the third time the artwork has been defaced since its creation following Floyd’s killing last Memorial Day.
Police Chief Troy Finner said Thursday “some knucklehead” defaced the mural, which shows an image of Floyd on a colorful background alongside the words “I can’t breathe.”
“I don’t know what their motivation is, if it’s hate or whatever,” Finner said, adding, “Let me tell you something, and I want everybody to understand – ignorant people with bad hearts and bad motivations, do not give them the power.”
The mural was defaced with a racial slur. Previously, it was vandalized with “KKK” written over Floyd’s face.
Houston-based artist Daniel Anguilu, who painted the mural with other artists at the city’s Graffiti Park several days after Floyd was killed, restored it Thursday. He said it was the third time he’s had to clean it.
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“We really wanted people to have a place where they could begin the healing process,” Anguilu said. “At the time when we painted it, all we knew was a person was killed from our community. We knew that people were hurting from it.”
A jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
“Yeah it upsets people when somebody defaces something like this, when our city has been peaceful,” Finner said. “The verdict came in, and it was the right verdict. Some people are upset about it. Some people are ecstatic about it. But one thing, here in Houston, we’re gonna stick together.”
To the vandals, Finner said: “You will be held accountable.”
Floyd was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and grew up in Houston. His brother, Philonise Floyd, still lives in Houston with his wife and two kids. In court last week, Philonise testified about growing up with his “big brother” in Houston, saying George was beloved in the community there.
“People would attend church just because he was there,” Philonise Floyd said. “He just knew how to make people feel better.”