A Trenton, New Jersey, mural of Michael Brown, who was shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson Missouri, has been painted over at the request of local police. Artists from the Sage Coalition painted it two weeks ago.
Artist Will "Kasso" Condry said he wanted the mural to start a conversation about racial profiling. I guess it did that, given that it didn't last a month without Trenton police convincing the Trenton Downtown Association that it sent a negative message, and should come down.
The Sage Coalition is a fairly well-known group in Trenton, and though I'm not a city resident and might be missing something here, I find it hard to understand why the powers that be there didn't trust their judgement. The mural was painted on a metal gate to a vacant store; covering up an illegal liquor store ad with art that did what art is supposed to do – start a conversation.
The Sage Coalition has a history in Trenton. Block parties during which they help people make and install art over the windows of vacant buildings, creative workshops conducted by local people for local people, gallery shows, live music, even turning vacant lots into community gardens, teaching people how to grow food and "bringing Trenton's soil back to life."
The Coalition is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and one of its projects is a gallery owned by the Trenton Downtown Association – which made the ultimate decision to paint over the mural – but run by Sage.
A video of the mural being painted over like graffiti is below the fold. It was posted by artist Byron Marshall, who goes by Black Collar Biz. He told Trenton Times reporter Jenna Pizzi that the mural wasn't about "us against you." In the video, you can hear a man telling the graffiti blaster team he knows they're just doing their job for their pay, but the mural "ain't causing any trouble."
"Mike Brown. You can't talk about that in Trenton."
Video posted by Byron Marshall: