Community members, elected officials gather to repaint vandalized Black Lives Matter mural in Ypsilanti

An aerial view of community members repainting the Black Lives Matter Mural in Ypsilanti's Riverside Park on Oct. 17, 2021. (Chris Ahern Photography)

YPSILANTI, Mich. – At least 50 people gathered at Ypsilanti’s Riverside Park on Sunday to repaint the Black Lives Matter mural that was defaced by white supremacists on Sept. 19.

The damage to the 260-foot mural included large amounts of white paint splattered over the words “Black Lives.”

One of two BLM murals in Ypsilanti, the work was was repaired the same way it was created -- by members of the local community.

“I keep telling people that this is so much more than a mural,” said the mural’s co-creator and community organizer Trische’ Duckworth, who was touched by the outpouring of support. “It was such a time of love, community, bonding and healing.”

Community members of all ages repaint the defaced BLM mural in Ypsilanti's Riverside Park on Oct. 17, 2021. (Trische' Duckworth)
Jazz guitarist and Ypsilanti resident John E. Lawrence performs for community members at a mural repainting event on Oct. 17, 2021. (Trische' Duckworth)

Work started on the mural at noon and by 2:45 p.m. it was complete, she said.

Prior to the repainting event, the city of Ypsilanti power washed the mural over two days to remove the white paint.

Several elected officials came out to lend a helping hand and show support, including Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Senator Jeff Irwin, Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Victoria Burton-Harris, Washtenaw County Commissioners Ricky Jefferson and Jason Morgan and Ypsilanti City Councilmember Steve Wilcoxen.

Washtenaw County Commissioner Jason Morgan and Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit fill in a letter of the Black Lives Matter mural in Riverside Park in Ypsilanti on Oct. 17, 2021. (Trische' Duckworth)

“We had great representation from the community and government officials,” said Duckworth.

Local businesses and nonprofits contributed to the event as well. MAIZ Mexican Cantina, Sidetrack Bar & Grill and Growing Hope donated food while Cultivate Coffee & Tap House brought coffee and cider to the event.

“We definitely want to send a shoutout to them and thank them so much for standing with us like that,” said Duckworth. “People poured donations in, people got their hands dirty, people came with food -- this was all around a community project that we are so, so grateful for.”

Mural co-creator Trische' Duckworth (right) poses with a community member on Oct. 17 during the mural repainting event in Ypsilanti. (Trische' Duckworth)

Duckworth said while she and her colleagues hope the mural won’t be vandalized again, they recognize it is a possibility. There are steps they can take, like installing donated surveillance cameras from the community, but that such measures need to be formalized through City Council.

Another option would be having the path that the mural is on repaved, and then repainting the work with an anti-graffiti coating.

“They came with their white paint and their hate but we got more paint and we got more love,” said Duckworth. “If they come back again with more hate, we’ll come back again with more love. We’ll continue to do this until love wins again in the end.”

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.