A famous mural in Columbus, Ohio reading “celebrate diversity” and featuring different skin tone colors, hearts and a peace sign was vandalized on Wednesday night (April 14), shocking many in the community.
Phrases like “I love the police,” “f**k you,” “liars,” “s**k d**k” and more were spray-painted in white all across the mural, which is owned by local residents Joy Steele and Leigh Keim D’Onofrio and faces a major road in their Clintonville neighborhood.
The mural was painted by visual artist Hakim Callwood last July in response to the nationwide protests taking place over racial justice, including ones happening in Ohio’s capital city.
“We were doing a lot of response pieces to things going on,” Callwood told BET on Friday. “So me and my homie Sam Rietenbach got together. I told him I was trying to come up with a phrase or something and he was like, ‘How about celebrate diversity?’”
But when he learned that his mural was defaced with profanity, Callwood says he was surprised over the profane sentiments, being that his message wasn’t political in nature.
“Initially, I thought it was no big deal and that we could just go fix it,” he said. “I just figured it was somebody drunk or whatever, but when I saw it in person, honestly, it hit different. This was essentially like a hate crime. For them to write ‘we love police’ and ‘f**k you,’ etc – there was no mention of police at all.”
Callwood is a Columbus native, who with videographer Ted Cadillac, put together a video series called Tour de Mural where they travel the country and paint murals in various communities in hopes of beautifying them while also spreading messages of positivity. He says this latest defacing is a tiny bump in the road and that he or his art won’t be quelled.
“We’re not scared of whoever’s defacing it. It’s the smallest obstacle in a way,” he stated. “We went and fixed it in like an hour and we made it look better than it did before. We’re going to continue to spread love and keep being positive and having fun making art regardless of whoever’s problems who think that they can stop us.”
You can donate to Tour de Mural’s kickstarter campaign here.
Photo: Ted Cadillac