Black Lives Matter Murals in Downtown
February 9, 2021
In downtown, many Riverside businesses and organizations have stood their ground in the wake of a vandalism attack on multiple Black Lives Matter murals. On Nov. 2 of last year, there was a long line of black spray paint found drawn through the murals, across civil rights leaders such as Harriet Tubman and James Baldwin on the side of The Fox Theater. Other murals across the street from the new main library that were tributes to John Lewis had a black line of paint drawn through them as well. This occurred the day before the election which increased tensions that were already high that day. Some saw it as someone choosing something randomly to vandalize and others saw it as a racist statement against the community.
Over the summer there have been peaceful protests in downtown Riverside where thousands gathered to protest police brutality. Some of the murals that were painted downtown were in honor of those who had died due to police brutality. George Floyd’s mural was also defaced that Monday. When some businesses downtown boarded up because of looting, local artists came together to paint murals on the boarded up windows. The paintings on the murals are of peace signs and messages supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I really enjoy the murals! I think they are a brilliant form of expression that really helps to make Riverside better … I was just really happy when I saw them. The artists who made them are clearly passionate about their cause and it shines through the artwork. It’s disheartening seeing the vandalism everytime I go downtown. Meaningful works of art just … marked with hate.” said junior Olivia Hara.
The majority of the murals are around a block from the area that is going to become the Civil Rights Institute. People are examining the surveillance footage to see who might be responsible for vandalizing the murals downtown.
“I first saw them when I was going on a bike ride with my family near downtown … I wanted to read the quotes that were said and soak in as much as I can from the drawings. I think no one should ever vandalize the murals. They are very important so for someone to vandalize them shows how they must not care or have no respect for the movement,” said sophomore Kaylie Lopez.
The murals remain in downtown, along with banners and other artwork supporting the movement. The artists who painted the murals want to turn the vandalism into an anti-racism movement. The murals were colorful and beautiful pieces of art that symbolize hope and unity and the belief that life will be back to normal.