Birmingham City Council apologises for painting over George Floyd tribute
The artist tells The Birmingham Tab the apology isn’t enough
An art piece in Birmingham referencing George Floyd’s murder was painted over by Birmingham City Council after its creation on Monday in Silver Street. The tribute piece includes George Floyd’s final words of “I can’t breathe” which has become a staple in Black Lives Matter protests around the world.
Birmingham City council have since issued an apology over the graffiti’s removal and emphasised that there was no political motive behind it. The art has since been repainted and replicated via projections in several locations in Birmingham.
However, Mohammed Ali Aerosol, the artist behind the tribute, doesn’t believe their apology is enough.
“I saw on social media that it was taken down, the council did not contact me and they still haven’t contacted me to issue an apology. They should have contacted, issuing a statement on Twitter is a faceless way to do it,” Ali told The Birmingham Tab.
A representative from Birmingham City Council said: “this was done mistakenly, certainly nothing to do with the content. The artwork has now been repainted, and in other locations too.”
Cllr John O’Shea, Cabinet Member for Street Scene and Parks, said: “We unreservedly apologise for the removal of this artwork. Graffiti is a scourge in our city and the operative that removed it did so in good faith there was absolutely no political motive behind this. However we accept that it was wrong, and we are investigating how this happened.”
Birmingham City Council tweeted out an apology regarding the removal of the George Floyd tribute art piece on Tuesday.
Hi there, we are sorry – following is a statement from Cllr John O’Shea, Cabinet Member for Street Scene & Parks:
"We unreservedly apologise for the removal of this artwork.
"Graffiti is a scourge in our city and the operative that removed it did so in good faith. (1/2)…
— Bham City Council (@BhamCityCouncil) June 2, 2020
“I’ve been an artist for decades and art is really important to get across messages that are not spoken enough about. Art allows us to speak about important issues and in this case a political issue to highlight institutional racism and inequality in the US and the society we live in,” Ali told The Birmingham Tab.
Mohammed Ali also told The Birmingham Tab how he is now projecting the image onto the streets of Digbeth and four other neighbourhoods on a daily occurrence. “The image is so important for people to see to be reminded of what happened,” he said.
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'I CANT BREATHE' now projecting onto a Digbeth wall starting tonight and running every night. . . After the whitewashing of 'I Can't Breathe' artwork' by Birmingham City Council (who admitted it was a 'mistake' and will be investigating) it was not only painted back in place this evening, but added to four other neighbourhoods in Birmingham & projected onto a city centre building. . . That's what happens when you suppress something. Don't be surprised when it comes back stronger than ever. . . Thanks to @boogiedave for organising the projection. . . #ICantBreathe #blacklivesmatter #georgefloyd #streetprojection