Why a George Floyd mural, often vandalized, matters in downtown Lafayette
Pastors say it’s time to refocus the conversation about a downtown mural targeted five times by white supremacist graffiti
In the days after a pair of men were seen splattering a pail of white paint and stenciling symbols of a white supremacist group over a tribute to George Floyd in downtown Lafayette, making it the fifth time the mural near the corner of Sixth and Ferry street had been defaced, the question was: What next?
Even as a crew of rapid-response volunteers cleaned the damage – the portrait and Black Lives Matter message was intact in about an hour that evening – Margy Deverall, a city planner, said she was already running through a check list of options.
“Are we talking about cameras?” Deverall, who has overseen various mural projects in downtown Lafayette, asked. “Do we move it somehow? Do we replicate it somewhere else? Do we just cover it up? … I didn’t know. I just knew I didn’t want to make that decision on my own.”
Deverall assembled a small group of pastors, artists, members of the Greater Lafayette’s Diversity Round Table and other community leaders.
The response: Maybe it was time to take over the narrative of a mural that wound up in the conversation only when it was vandalized. Maybe it was time to talk about why the mural popped up on the side of a downtown building in the first place.
“That mural represents a moment in time in your life,” Jos Holman, Tippecanoe County Public Library director, said. “Not just George Floyd’s life. In your life. When we stop to think about the mural and that particular aspect of it, we have to stop and ask ourselves, what are we doing? And most of all, what difference will it make?”