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‘The heart of the artwork remains’: Artist restores vandalized BLM, George Floyd mural

UPDATED: Wed., July 8, 2020

The vandalized Black Lives Matter sign on the Shacktown Community Cycle building has been restored as seen here on Tuesday in downtown Spokane.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
The vandalized Black Lives Matter sign on the Shacktown Community Cycle building has been restored as seen here on Tuesday in downtown Spokane. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

A large Black Lives Matter mural painted on the side of Shacktown Community Cycle in downtown Spokane has been restored by the artist after being vandalized last week with a large amount of white paint.

The white paint covered the face of a BLM protestor depicted with one fist raised in the air and the face of George Floyd, a Black man who died in May after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for eight-plus minutes. Floyd’s face was the most prominent part of the mural painted by Daniel Lopez, who is well known for his murals that dot the city.

The mural was vandalized Thursday night and a security camera was positioned to catch the act, but the bike shop’s security system hard drive was corrupted. A PayPal donation account was set up to raise money for a new security camera to help deter future acts of vandalism.

No-Li Brewhouse owner John Bryant said he’d heard about the vandalism and noticed that no money had been raised for a new security camera as of Friday morning.

“I just picked up the phone,” he said.

Bryant donated $800 to Shacktown, which paid to have a new security camera installed. Donating money to local causes and doing fundraisers for local organizations isn’t new for Bryant. When the Salish School of Spokane was vandalized a few years ago, he organized a fundraiser so the school could buy a security system. He just finished a fundraiser for the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Spokane.

“Then this happened,” he said. “Our work wasn’t done.”

Bryant said he’s just trying to support the people and organizations in the community who are doing the hard work every day.

“That’s kind of our role,” he said. “If we can support powerful, compassionate voices in our community, that’s great. Shacktown Community Cycle and Daniel Lopez, they’ve carried this flag forward.”

Melissa Huggins, executive director of Spokane Arts, said though her organization didn’t have anything to do with the mural, she has worked with Lopez in his role as a Spokane art commissioner.

“He pours his heart and soul into his work, and it’s rare that his work gets defaced with graffiti,” she said.

“We all know why this mural did (get vandalized): a blatant act of racism, intended as a slap in the face to people of color and those who care about basic human rights.”

Lopez fixed the mural on Sunday, but he didn’t completely restore Floyd’s face as it was. He painted a portion of Floyd’s face in squares of various shades of brown, black, grey, white and yellow, creating a pixilating effect.

Lopez did not respond to several interview requests.

Huggins said she thought the way Lopez repaired the mural was powerful and made it tell a more layered story.

“Anyone who sees it now understands that the mural was attacked, but it’s still there. The intent, the heart of the artwork remains,” she said.

In a Facebook post, Shacktown thanked the community and Lopez for their response to the vandalism.

“We would like to thank the community for coming together to help prove that #LoveTrumpsHate,” the post reads. “In this world that we all live in, it is often times easier to look the other way when situations like this one makes us uncomfortable, but it is in societies best interest to not ignore them anymore.”

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