Mural on MLK building in Springfield to pay tribute to people of color killed by police

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A mural inspired by the death of George Floyd will be painted on the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services building in Springfield Thursday and Friday to pay tribute to unarmed people of color killed by police.

A news conference was held Thursday at 10 a.m. in front of the MLK Jr. Family Services building at 3 Rutland Street to kick off the mural painting.

According to a news release sent to 22News, the mural will be painted by internationally-known muralist and graffiti artist Wane One from New York City with assistance from two additional muralists, Nero and Souls.

The mural will include the phrase, “Say Their Names,” and feature the names of more than 60 unarmed people of color who have been killed by police in the United States in the last year. The names and demographics of those killed were provided from the research by Mapping Police Deaths.

“There’s a lot of people that don’t really know about George Floyd, they know a few names byt they don’t know it’s an ongoing thing that’s been going on for decades,” said Wane One, the lead artist for the mural.

Wane One added, “We paint murala to really bring joy to people with color, but this one we hope will evoke emotions that are sad but at the same time give hope to the end of what’s happening in America.”

Wane One painted the East Columbus Parking Garage during the Fresh Paint Springfield Mural Festival last year and a mural for the Friends of the Homeless Shelter on Worthington Street in Springfield. Wane One has been in the New York City graffiti community for 36 years and has painted over 35 public murals in New York City and around the world.

The say their name mural was organized by common wealth murals, the art for the soul gallery and three artists.

“I feel like America embracing for the first time in my lifetime, I feel they’re fully embracing the magnitude of the issue and they’re not taking “no” for an answer,” said Ronn Johnson, president of MLK Jr. Family Services Inc.

Attendees held a moment of silence for eight minutes to represent the amount of time that former Minneapolis Police officer, Derek Chauvin, held his knee on Floyd’s neck.

“We were inspired to create this mural by the death of George Floyd. We believe more must be done to prevent the excessive use of force by police, which disproportionately harms people of color. We hope this mural will create a space for public and communal mourning, inspiration, and conversation,” the project organizers said.

There will also be an adjacent area where members of the community are encouraged to share their own tributes and remembrances.

The project was organized by Common Wealth Murals, organizer of Fresh Paint Springfield, and Rosemary Tracy Woods the Executive Director and Chief Curator of Art for the Soul Gallery.

The artists will be there until dark and then back on Friday to finish the mural.

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