Last week, a (hopefully) well-intentioned white artist tried to aid in healing tensions between police and Black people with a mural. It did not go well.
“I did a thing…” the artist’s Instagram post starts off.
And a thing it was. The mural, painted on the much-maligned Kmart at Nicollet and Lake Street, featured a Black civilian and white police officer hugging it out, all while a Black person captures the moment on their camera phone.
The artist, Christina Marie (@christina.marie.g), posted an image of her work, which has been both referred to as titled Reconciliation or Love Your Enemy, on Instagram. It was not well received.
“This is despicable and is degrading to the Black community,” one commenter responded. “This mural literally is for you only and everyone else with white guilt being told that your beloved police force does nothing for no one. Take it down.”
“Whew chile please take this down you look silly,” said another.
“How are you about to say ‘love your enemies?’” asked another. “You are not the one dealing with oppression. You’re here to amplify voices, not tell people “love your enemy” and paint a mural and then proceed to your privileged life.”
So, how did this white nonsense happen? The mural was created as part of the #lakestreetprayerwall, a project organized by Pastor Peter Wohler, who is executive director of the Source MN, a faith-based nonprofit that works with at-risk youth and sponsors the Fallout Arts Initiative, which hosts a variety of events and showcases urban artists.
The mural was short-lived. Parts of the piece were damaged over two nights. On the third night a group showed up to destroy it once and for all.
“We were trying to politely engage,” Wohler told the Star Tribune. “We asked them politely to stop and they wouldn’t until we suggested we then take it down ourselves.”
Wohler says that things got violent when he tried to stop the defacing. “[They] attacked me physically, punched me in the back repeatedly, and spray painted me across the arms and chest.”
Meanwhile, the original post from the artist is still up, with thousands of comments. Marie has declined to discuss the mural with newspapers, and hasn’t engaged with any of the online responses. She has, however, updated her main Instagram page with a link to #lakestreetprayerwall’s response to the controversy.
“Our apologies to anyone who took offense,” it states. “We realize that this may have been perceived as being political or insensitive.”