George Floyd statue vandalized in Union Square in New York – Twin Cities

In this Thursday, September 30, 2021, archive photo, a sculpture by George Floyd, one of three sculptures as part of the “SEEINJUSTICE” art exhibition which also features the likenesses of Breonna Taylor and John Lewis, is unveiled as the brother of Floyd Terrence, second from left, looks at Union Square in New York’s Manhattan neighborhood. The statue honoring Floyd was vandalized on Sunday (October 3), police said. (AP Photo / John Minchillo)

NEW YORK CITY – In Union Square, Terrence Floyd – a brother of George Floyd whose May 2020 murder by a police officer sparked clashes over police brutality and racial injustice – spoke quietly into a microphone.

“These monuments have meaning,” Mr Floyd said Friday evening as he stood among large sculptures of his brother, representing John Lewis and Breonna Taylor.

The statues were covered in black cloth, and the growing crowd of people held cellphone cameras, ready to capture the moment Mr. Floyd and others revealed the sculptures, which stand almost six feet tall.

At that time, there were no signs, no painful chants, and no gas masks – radically different from just over a year ago, when Union Square was often a focal point for nights out. protest. With the sculptures, a place of agitation has become a place of reflection.

But two days later, at around 10:15 a.m. Sunday, a man with a black backpack skateboarded to the George Floyd statue and splashed gray paint on his face, police said. Police were investigating the incident, which they said was caught on CCTV.

“It’s incredibly disappointing to see how the statues have been disfigured in such a short time, and it shows you how far we still have to go to achieve our goal of unity,” Terrence Floyd said on Sunday in a joint declaration with the non-profit association. We are the Floyd Foundation.

Chris Carnabuci, the artist who made the sculptures, said on Sunday that while the vandalism came as no total surprise, “it’s quite upsetting for all of us.” He said the exhibit aimed to inspire civil discourse and provide a space where different opinions could be heard.

“Vandalism of any kind is not a productive or meaningful action,” he said. “Actions like this remind us that we have a long way to go and that we will never stop fighting.”

Union Square is the final sculpture stop by George Floyd, who spent a few weeks on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn over the summer. Less than a week after its unveiling in Brooklyn, it was disfigured by the logo of a white supremacist group.

In a previous interview, Mr Carnabuci, 57, said he decided to paint her and the other statues, so if someone tried to degrade them again, it would be easier to restore them.

He also explained why he chose Union Square as the backdrop for the installation, titled “#SeeInjustice,” which will be on display until October 30.

“It has this rich history of – we’ll call it protests or social gatherings,” he said. “There was a demonstration by George Floyd in Union Square. In the late 1800s, protests took place there. This has been going on for over 100 years.

Thursday afternoon, a day before the official presentation, crowds of people gathered around the sculptures, looking for the perfect angle to take photos.

Matias Mayol, 49, a visiting tourist from Argentina, said the artwork gave him goosebumps.

Although he knew Mr Floyd through the media in Argentina, he said he had never heard of Ms Taylor, a black medical worker who was shot dead in a botched police raid on her home. apartment, and he was amazed to learn about it. story.

He also did not know Mr. Lewis, a staunch civil rights activist who was beaten up by police officers and suffered a broken skull during the ‘Bloody Sunday’ protests of 1965 as he and hundreds of others tried. to walk from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery. . Mr Lewis died of pancreatic cancer in July 2020.

Mr. Mayol said there was something ethereal about the statues. “I quit because I love the color, and they look like angels,” he said. “They are in the sky watching us to see changes.”

Hess, 22, from Los Angeles, said she believed the post would have had more impact if it highlighted everyone injured by police, although she understands why the artist chose M Floyd and Mrs. Taylor.

“It would be better if, for example, every person who died from police violence last year had their own booth, and the whole park would be covered,” she said.

The murder last year of Mr. Floyd, 46, by Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer who was later fired and convicted of murder, inspired Mr. Carnabuci.

Already feeling emotionally drained from the pandemic lockdown, Mr Carnabuci said he felt “helpless” watching the protests unfold. His wife encouraged him to put his grief into his art, and he said he wanted to capture the moment in a meaningful way.

“We actually started to think about doing an exhibit and putting the pieces together to kind of keep the awareness going,” he said. “And even fundraise for foundations that reach out to people in need.”

Mr. Carnabuci worked with Andrew Cohen and Lindsay Eshelman, founders of Confront Art, an organization that aims to connect artists with social justice causes to create public art.

But first, Mr. Carnabuci wanted the Floyd family’s blessing. Terrence Floyd approved. “He never wavered in his support and love for the project,” said Mr. Carnabuci. “And that also gave us a reason to work, which is basically to build the program that would benefit its foundation.”

Mr Floyd said the meaning of Confront Art’s name was one of the main reasons he felt comfortable working with the group.

“It is literally art that is confrontational,” he said Friday night. “It cannot be avoided. It should not be avoided. You must know it. “

Quick response codes will soon be displayed on the basis of each sculpture, Mr Carnabuci said, so that people can donate to charities benefiting from the efforts on behalf of the subjects of the statues: We Are Floyd, The Breonna Foundation Taylor and John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation.

Yolanda Burns, 59, of Manhattan, said the sculptures were an important reminder that not much had changed since the racial unrest and the summer 2020 protests. “It’s 2021 – who expects that it continues? ” she said. “Looks like it’s going to last a lifetime, so I want to make sure my daughter understands the people whose lives have been sacrificed.”

Jason Woody, 37, of Richmond, Calif., And his partner, Maria Weatherborne, 40, of San Francisco, met during a protest against George Floyd last year. Dressed in Black Lives Matter cycling outfits, the two said they hope the sculptures will raise awareness and help end systemic racism.

“I think there is a way for everyone to find a way to engage in making things better,” Mr. Woody said.

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