A Black Lives Matter mural in suburban Chicago was painted over this week and now reads “All Lives Matter,” and activists are fuming about it.
“If they cannot understand that all lives don’t matter until black lives matter, they did this out of hatred,” activist and mural organizer Cortlyn Kelly told WLS-TV.
Police are reportedly investigating the incident, and crews have been brought in to clean the mural in the village of Oak Park. It had been created over the course of two days last month by around twenty volunteers who hoped to make it more colorful than other murals of its kind in celebration of Pride month.
Oak Park resident Cullen Benson had come up with the idea for the mural in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis police custody back in May. Benson described the mural as “a piece of history to influence generations to come.”
Camille Wilson White, Arts Council executive director, said that seeing the mural “vandalized, defaced this way, it’s shameful.”
“The village is a place of inclusion and to have someone come and destroy someone else’s work is disrespectful and disgusting,” said resident Yolanda Taylor.
Local resident Greg Mayor had a different take on the situation, saying, “if all lives matter, then black lives matter — and why would that upset you other than if you have a different agenda…than all lives matter?”
The mural has since been restored, and activists have added chalk phrases and drawings to underscore the message. The Revolutionary Oak Park Youth Action League also organized a demonstration that involved over one hundred people calling to defund and pull police from schools.
Activist Ray Longstreet sent a message to whoever painted over the mural, saying, “if you were brave enough to come out here and cover this up, you should be brave enough to come be a man and just tell us what you did.”
His fellow activist Makayla Pye added, “If you hear Black Lives Matter and immediately your response is to say ‘All Lives Matter,’ [that] says a lot about how you perceive race.