A giant mural including a Black Lives Matter-style fist in New Jersey was partially whitewashed soon after it was finished following a flood of complaints, according to the artist.
May Yuasa, 19, told NorthJersey.com that she spent 60 hours painting the mural on a Garden State Parkway underpass in Clifton last week after getting permission from City Manager Dominick Villano.
But she was told that the part showing the fist quickly led to complaints — and Villano sent city workers to paint a white box over the offending image, he confirmed to the outlet.
That decision sparked further outrage — and now the entire mural celebrating the community’s diversity will be completely removed.
Despite Villano giving permission, the underpass is actually the property of the New Jersey Turnpike/Garden State Parkway Authority, which confirmed to the outlet that murals are not allowed and Yuasa’s artwork would have to go.
Yuasa, a recent Clifton High School graduate, insisted that her artwork was merely trying to “show unity and to celebrate Clifton’s diversity.”
“I’m confused as to why it offended anyone,” she told the local site.
“There were no political motivations. It was a symbol of unity,” she said of the painting that also had arms of different skin colors holding hands and making a heart symbol.
She also attacked the “cowardly” way complaints were only made through emails and calls to the city manager.
“During the time that I worked on it, not a single person came up to me to communicate their feelings,” she insisted.
Supporters of the artwork told NorthJersey.com that they are planning a demonstration at the next City Council meeting on Aug. 4.
Still, Villano told the outlet, “I stand by my decision to remove any political, religious or racial overtones from our public displays.”