East New York Residents Paint Mural To Protest Gun Violence
With a summer marked by violence in some areas of the city, a group of artists in East New York are using a controversial shooting that captivated the nation to help start conversation. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
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Trayvon Martin in his hoodie. That now-familiar image is the centerpiece of a new mural unveiled in East New York Friday.
"He's just a global symbol, not only to black men but to people of color," said artist James Shields.
Trayvon is portrayed on the right side of the painting with images of others lost to violence, headlines from this summer's shooting of a 4-year-old in the Bronx, controversial police stop-and-frisk policies. The artists said all are sources of frustration.
"Out of frustration comes change," said Catherine Green, the founder of ARTs East New York. "We cannot sit down and we can't be complacent and complain. We have to move toward change."
In the mural, the community calls out for change. As it moves from right to left, there are visual messages of education and a brighter outlook.
The mural is a first for ARTs East New York. The community-based group saw this as a beautification project for a Livonia Avenue wall filled with graffiti.
"This was a desolate, dreary area and we're bringing some life to it," said artist Abdul Badi. "Not just some life but something to stimulate thought and conversation."
Assemblywoman Inez Barron said it can stimulate conversation about the Fourth Amendment ban against unreasonable search and seizure.
"It reminds them that there's a basis for us to confront the injustices that we're subjected to in our communities, regardless of where it's coming from," she said.
For City Councilman Charles Barron, it brings up city program cuts in poor communities.
"Why would you cut these programs and say we need to stop and frisk you more?" he said. "And that's not even working. Poverty is violence. Unemployment is violence."
The mural is still not done. A side depicting the future of East New York still needs to be completed. The artists said it'll be clean and bright and so far, this summer project has been rewarding.
"A better sense that I'm doing something for my community, I'm helping out," said artist Michael Hutchinson.
The arts group said it plans to do a second mural along the strip next summer.