INDIANAPOLIS - The "Black Lives Matter" mural created by local artists and activists in Downtown Indianapolis has been defaced about one week after it was painted.
On Sunday morning, community members woke to the mural covered with splatters of white and gray paint. Residents who contributed to the piece told IndyStar they were informed of the damage overnight, and word of the vandalism spread quickly across social media.
The mural is still legible, but every letter of the piece has been marked with splashes of paint. It remains unclear who caused the damage.
Community members at the scene Sunday morning told IndyStar that the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has been notified of the damage.
IMPD has confirmed that they are investigating, but no additional information was immediately available.
Indy10 Black Lives Matter and other community groups organized a mural painting event on Aug. 1. The event included speakers, live music and spoken word performances.
The Indianapolis City-County Council approved the mural in a resolution against racism, and community organizers chose one Black artist to paint each letter of the mural on the road between the Indianapolis Urban League and the Madam Walker Legacy Center.
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In addition to the words "Black Lives Matter," the mural includes the names and faces of Dreasjon Reed, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Taylor and other men and women killed by police.
Rebecca Robinson, the artist who painted the letter "L" in the mural, said she found out about the damage around 3 a.m. Sunday.
She said she woke to an email that just said, "It's starting already."
"And I saw pictures, and the first thought I had was to just come down here and see it for myself and see what's going on," she said. "And also to see if there's any type of security cameras or something."
Well, that didn’t take long. 😬🙄 pic.twitter.com/clcS6Ktov2— Robert Scheer (@bobscheer) August 9, 2020
Mali Jeffers, an organizer of the mural painting event, told IndyStar that painting the mural on that street was intentional.
For Indy’s Black community, the avenue was the center of Black life in Indianapolis during segregation. Jazz music spilled from clubs, where cabarets, burlesque shows and drag performances also attracted crowds.
The street was also home to shops, restaurants, doctor’s offices and shoe-shine stands.
Many local historians point to the 1960s as the beginning of the end for the area due to urban renewal projects and the construction of I-65. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis also expanded onto Indiana Avenue and now sits in what was once a Black neighborhood.
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The area was dealt its final blows in the 1970s and '80s when the city began bulldozing its historic buildings to raise skyscrapers.
On Thursday, Jeffers announced on Facebook that mural would be open to the public and closed to vehicular traffic through Labor Day.
The intention was to keep both the art and residents heading to Indiana Avenue to view it safe.
Contributing: Christine Fernando, IndyStar Pulliam Fellow
Follow Justin L. Mack on Twitter: @justinlmack.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: 'Black Lives Matter' mural in Indianapolis defaced after a week