A mural dedicated to George Floyd, whose death at the hands of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in May set off a wave of protests across the U.S., was unveiled at Jamaica Colosseum Mall on Tuesday, Aug. 25.
The portrait of Floyd’s face, painted on the side of the mall located at 89-02 165 St., also honors a handful of other Black men, women and children who were killed by police officers across the country, including Sean Bell, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile and Amadou Diallo.
The mural was created by “partners in paint,” Shenna Vaughn and William Bentley, who were both approached by Thomas Logan, the property manager of the Jamaica Colosseum Mall, to paint the mural on the ground floor, as well as a second mural near the top of the parking garage of the mall.
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“My hope is that it inspires,” Vaughn said. “We’re using art as our way to do our part and speak to and reach the community. If we all use our gifts, we can make change for the better.”
Terrance Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, attended the unveiling, as did Councilman Rory Lancman, members of Community Board 12 and Kevin Livingston, the founder of the nonprofit 100 Suits for 1oo Men.
“I hope that the mural unifies the community and inspires the community to take care of each other and to remember history,” Bentley said.
The two Black artists said that even before the mural was completed, members of the community would walk by and share how the act of creating the mural was already an inspiration. Vaughn said that at one point, a girl passing by was surprised to see the duo creating art on the side of a wall.
“We can do that?” Vaughn said the girl asked, happily surprised.
“I want everyone else to know that they have gifts within them, too,” Bentley said. “It’s a tragic situation but I’ve learned to take tragedy and do what we can within our power to make it better. Hopefully the mural helps us get through this darkness.”
Logan said he hopes the mural gets at what he see’s as the central message of Floyd’s tragic death.
“My aim was to keep it simple and to bring the narrative back to where it belongs, where the fight is,” Logan said. “It’s not just about George Floyd. He’s the face of hundreds and hundreds of people who have lost their lives to racial injustice.”
More of the artists’ work can be viewed on Instagram at @magichandsmurals.
See photos from the unveiling below.
Additional reporting by Dean Moses.