On Sunday, community members gathered at Ypsilanti Riverside Park to repaint the Black Lives Matter mural, which was vandalized with white paint by a white supremacist hate group called the Patriot Front in September.
The 260-foot mural, originally dedicated in June after months of fundraising and logistics planning, spells out “Black Lives Matter” and stretches along the park’s entry driveway. Faded white footprints left over from the vandalization could still be seen along the street on Sunday morning, but outlines of the original letters remained.
Jazmyn Bradford, volunteer coordinator of Survivors Speak, the social justice community organization which hosted the event, told The Michigan Daily she felt optimistic after seeing the mural repainted in the wake of vandalization.
“We’re not letting that get us down — as you can see, we’re still here,” Bradford said. “I’m so glad that this was pretty much the same outcome as we had last time. People still see the importance in this mural. It’s just grateful to see that the community can see that as well.”
Barney Judge, the key designer behind this mural, has been painting murals for 25 years. He told The Daily that he felt a sense of purpose when he first answered the call from the project’s organizers and described the challenges that came with the project.
“I thought, how can you prepare ahead of time so that you can get all these people who aren’t really experienced painters to finish in one day?” Judge said. “So here came the stencil idea. We made stencils of all these letters out of Tyvek background, a tough material.”
Judge described the damage of the vandalism as a flesh wound. He said the repainting task was much easier after the city of Ypsilanti cleared off the white paint and the contour of the old mural resurfaced.
Francis Baetz, an employee at Cultivate, an Ypsilanti coffee shop and beer garden, said they heard about both the vandalism and repainting event from their colleagues. Baetz said they decided to show up to the repainting on Sunday in solidarity with the community.
“Something I have been struggling a lot (with) is figuring out how I can be helpful, because I don’t have a ton of time or money to be involved in tangible ways,” Baetz said. “Seeking out things like this with a small piece of time to contribute could go a long way.”
Daily News Contributor Chen Lyu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.