So much for freedom of speech. A mural went up in NYC’s Inwood neighborhood that was critical of numerous issues including bankers, drugs, war and, of course, the NYPD. On Tuesday, July 24th, just days after the graffiti styled artwork went up, it was painted over. But the rub is that the people responsible for buffing over the politically charged mural with black paint were plain clothes officers from the the 34th Precint, reports DNA Info.
Authorities had expressed concerns over Alan Ket’s painting that resided on a sidewall of New Edition Cleaners at 4929 Broadway. The art featured the word “Murderers” in bubble letters (and riddled with bullet holes), with tombstones and coffins surrounding it, marked with epitaphs like “Bank Of America,” “Shell Oil,” “Halliburton,” and “NYPD.” Authorities stepped to the owner of the business, Marina Curet, saying the mural was a “bad idea.”
According to law enforcement sources, the decision to remove the mural came after neighbors complained about its “violent” message — with bullet holes in the word murderers and tombstones.
Police said they were applying a “broken windows” approach to addressing quality-of-life concerns voiced by local residents.
Clearly, that doesn’t pass the sniff test because residents began complaining rather than applauding the 34th precint’s painting details.
Marina Curet told the police officers when they arrived that she had given the artist permission to paint the wall and that he had offered to remove it himself.
But officers painted over the mural within four hours, even leaving midway through for a lunch break.
Residents came out swinging in favor of the right to free speech.
“Isn’t great art supposed to be controversial?” said Ian Lang, 48, a Hudson Heights resident, as a he snapped a picture of the mural before the police painted over it.
Inwood resident Richard Herrera defended the artists’ right to paint his message.
“We shouldn’t be as concerned with the subject matter as we should be with the fact of the matter that the police abused their authority and basically bullied people to censor art,” he wrote on Facebook.
According to Ket, the painting was inspired by the shooting of the unarmed teen Ramarley Graham by an NYPD officer in the Bronx and other similar incidents.
All of the aforementioned corporation and entities seen in the artwork can be considered “murderers” at one point or the other.
Scared of the truth? And shouldn’t officers be out catching real criminals instead of getting familiar with drop cloths and paint rollers?
Check out photos of Ket’s mural, before and after the NYPD’s handiwork, in the gallery.
[Spotted at Animal New York]
MORE ON HIP-HOP WIRED!
Photos: DNAinfo/Farran Powell