Mike Fitzgerald spoke in a calm, determined voice.
This was just one more obstacle to overcome, another part of his purpose and resolve. And, to be honest, it didn’t surprise him at all.
“At the start of this, when we were planning it, I said that something was going to happen to this mural,” Fitzgerald said.
And, early Sunday morning, something did.
The “Black Lives Matter” mural that he and his team recently brought to life had been defaced overnight. White paint was scribbled over the word “Black.” Stenciled graffiti further marred the mural with a red image of the continental United States, the words, “Not Stolen, Conquered,” and the name of a group, Patriot Front US.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Patriot Front is a white supremacist, neo-Nazi American nationalist group.
Fitzgerald found out about the vandalism on Sunday morning, thanks to a text from a neighbor who lives near the mural, which is located on the side of the Harrisburg Improv Theatre on the 1600-block of N. 3rd Street in Harrisburg.
He and his team rushed to the site, where, in early August, they had unveiled the mural to a delighted crowd of helpers, supporters and neighborhood well-wishers.
They assessed the damage. It was time, they decided, to get right back to work.
They located a power-washer and immediately began to wash off the messages of hate. By early afternoon, much of the wall had been cleaned of the damage. Over the next couple of days, the team plans to restore the mural to its original state.
“If they think we’re just going to leave this the way they left it, we’re not,” Fitzgerald said.
And, if it happens again, which Fitzgerald believes is possible, maybe probable, they’ll be back again with their power washer, their paint and their grit.
“We’re resilient, and we’re a community,” he said. “They can’t stop us. We are going to continue to restore it.”
The Black Lives Matter mural is located at 1633 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg.
Monday Update: Fitzgerald’s team was able to restore the Black Lives Mural to its original state in less than a day (see below). This is how the mural looked at midday on Monday. Congrats to all involved!
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