BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Justin Andert said he felt a ‘gutting’ feeling when he learned that their Black Lives Matter mural had been defaced.
“We got a message through our Facebook page, and went and came and checked it out and saw that a lot of it had been whited out,” Andert said during an interview with FOX 17 Tuesday afternoon. “It’s just really disappointing, just something that didn’t need to happen.”
Andert, who created the Color The Creek mural organization, painted the mural back in June after the death of George Floyd and they wanted to do something positive in response.
However, earlier this week it was found defaced.
“It was disappointing but I have to say sadly enough with this much power it was almost anticipated that someone would have the nerve to come and do it,” said CTC representative Audrey Merlihan. “It is still a shock just to see the beautiful artwork covered up with honestly not a great paint job, just white paint."
She called it 'meaningless.'
Andert said they believe the vandalism happened between Sunday afternoon or Monday afternoon. The City of Battle Creek confirmed that the police are investigating the incident.
He believes the vandalism may have been a response to the Proud Boys rally and subsequent violence in nearby Kalamazoo.
“[They] might have gotten caught up in some of this recent unrest in Kalamazoo over the weekend and emotions are high again,” Andert said. “Unfortunately someone chose to take that out on something special that we had done here.”
Dozens of artists, volunteers and community members volunteered to help repair the damage since it happened. Andert said within the 30 minutes of finding out about the vandalism, people began showing up and dropping of paint, buckets, brushes, and other supplies.
“These hate crimes won’t stand,” Merlihan said. “That’s the most important thing is that this message of love and unity and freedom and justice, these are the messages that are going to stand in Battle Creek.”
***To contribute to their GoFundMe page to raise money for supplies, please click here.***