A bronze statue honouring George Floyd, a victim of police violence, was vandalised less than 48 hours after it was unveiled in Manhattan’s Union Square on 1 October. The bust was splattered with paint on Sunday morning by an unidentified male who was captured on video.
It is the second time that the same statue of Floyd has been defaced. The sculpture was originally unveiled in Brooklyn on Juneteenth this year and graffitied with the logo of a white supremacist group shortly after. The New York City Police Department’s hate crimes task force says it is investigating both cases.
In Union Square, the work is displayed alongside busts of Breonna Taylor and the civil rights activist John Lewis, which were not targeted. The works are part of a public art exhibition titled See in Justice that has been supported by the John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation, the charity We Are Floyd and the organisation Confront Art.
Andrew Cohen and Lindsay Eshelman, the co-founders of Confront Art, and LaCrown Johnson of We Are Floyd issued a statement: “It takes a lot of courage to display the three statues we are exhibiting in Union Square. It also takes a good deal of courage to vandalise a statue on a global stage in broad daylight. This continues to bring light to our mission that art is a conversation catalyst, a place for public discourse, and through these acts we can hopefully overcome hate and find unity for the future. We continue to be inspired to create and display public art to further this important mission.”
The New York-based artist Chris Carnabuci, who designed the statues, said in a statement that the defacement of his work doesn’t “come as a complete surprise”, and that “the fact there is a diversity of opinion on Floyd is the probably the main reason for this exhibit”. The sculpture has since been cleaned and remains on display.