Local teens talk with man seen writing divisive message on mural

Samantha Boring
Created: August 17, 2020 06:46 AM

(ABC 6 NEWS) - During the unrest across the country in May, after the death of George Floyd, many people found ways to come together to bring positivity and light to the situation. Here in Rochester, one local artist went to the city to create a mural in Soldiers Field Park in June.

RELATED | Local Artist Creates George Floyd Mural


That mural allowed residents to paint their thoughts. "A lot of times we feel like our message isn't getting heard. Our voice. On the other side, it says chalk your thoughts and let your voice be heard. And just write a message of hope, or change," artist, Willow Gentile said back in June.

But recently, a group of teenage girls saw a man writing something on the mural that was unlike the other messages. "We saw him writing the word white," Resident Emily said. When they looked closer, "There's no way he is writing 'white lives matter' like there is no way that people like that actually exist, right. And we came over here and that's what he was writing 'white lives matter more'," Resident Reece said.

Sophia asked him what he was writing, "He pretended he didn't do anything. He was like, oh, I didn't write this, but the chalk was in his hand and he was standing right next to it." 

The girls eventually started recording themselves and spoke with the man to better understand why he felt that way. Willow Gentile saw the video and what was written, she says this mural was not intended for hate.

"What those girls did was just so great, and they kept it true to self you know it's about black lives matter, it's about equity and equality for all," Gentile said.

Even though everyone might not agree on the movement behind this board, "Art is used in many different ways to express feelings, this particular piece as envisioned by Willow, who approached us, was about healing and not division," Rochester Mayor Kim Norton said. Norton says that the park board has worked hard to keep the mural positive and remove any inappropriate messages. 

The artist says that she welcomes anyone to come to the mural from 3 pm to 5 pm on Monday to paint the mural to keep the conversation going and paint your thoughts in hope for change. 

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