A mural honoring George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery in Portland was vandalized by supporters of a white nationalist hate group, photos show.
The artist who created the “We Stand With You” mural of Floyd, Taylor and Arbery last year revealed the damage left behind by backers of the Texas-based Patriot Front on Instagram Sunday, showing their three faces covered with white paint and replaced by the hate group’s website address.
“I’m sad, confused and lost for words on how much HATE and ignorance is in our community,” Christian Grijalva wrote. “For white supremacist haters to come vandalize and deface my mural and the community’s mural just blows my mind.”
The vandals struck sometime early Sunday morning, Grijalva told the Williamette Week newspaper.
“The damage they did, the size of it, they probably had a team of people,” he said.
Within hours of the white paint being spotted, people started calling Grijalva, who later arrived at the mural, where supporters had raised $300 to buy new supplies to restore it, the newspaper reported.
“Removal is gonna take away from the original color,” Grijalva continued. “I can work with this, though. It’s gonna look good, maybe by the end of the evening.”
Photos showed about a dozen Portland residents later gathering to repair the mural, The Oregonian reported. The faces of Floyd, Taylor and Arbery – whose killings by police or white vigilantes in Georgia led to widespread protests in 2020 – were visible again after the partial restoration, according to the photos.
“I was born here,” Amber Boydston, a Portland activist who was among the cleanup crew, told the newspaper. “I am very aware of the level of racism that Oregon is steeped in.”
Boydston said damage to the mural, which is in a historically black neighborhood, prompted “black and brown and white anti-racist” activists to respond quickly.
“It’s important to continuously send a message to people who believe in a white utopia that Oregon was once created for that dream will never be realized,” Boydston said.
A message seeking comment from Portland police was not immediately returned early Monday.
Patriot Front is a white nationalist hate group based in Texas founded in 2017, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The organization’s website vows to “reclaim America” after the purported failure of democracy.
“Our mission is a hard reset on the nation we see today – a return to the traditions and virtues of our forefathers,” its website reads. “The same spirit that urged our ancestors onward to create this nation will once again be brought to light, and a new America will be built within its current dilapidated, shameful iteration.”
The incident marked the second display of white nationalist vandalism in Portland in as many months, The Oregonian reported.
Graffiti left behind by Patriot Front supporters also marred a statue of York – an enslaved black member of the Lewis and Clark expedition – back in June, according to the newspaper.
“This only makes me wanna paint more BIG murals representing social justice, BLM and our BIPOC [communities],” Grijalva, also known as Firekat G, wrote on Instagram. “This mural was for everyone! Let’s show these haters what WE are capable of getting done when UNITY, LOVE & COMMUNITY come together.”