Defaced George Floyd Mural: Stoneham, MA



Defaced George Floyd Mural: Stoneham, MA

Catalog Entry

A mural of George Floyd that was spraypainted in Stoneham, MA was defaced. This mural was located in the Tri-Community Greenway, a bike and walking path that connects Stoneham, Woburn, and Winchester that goes through the I-93 tunnel. Esben Rey was the original artist behind this mural. Esben Rey stated that he was inspired by everyone coming together around the world in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after the death of George Floyd. Esben states, “‘Essentially I painted it because the times – it just broke my heart to see him murdered that way and it just hurt my heart a lot,’ said Rey. ‘So I thought the best way to positively interpret that was to commemorate him and paint a picture of his face,’” (Chan). The painting originally had George Floyd’s face and “Justice 4 Big Floyd” aside from it. Whoever was responsible for vandalizing this mural, covered Floyd’s face in white paint and tried to scribble out his name. Not only does this artifact show disrespect towards George Floyd, but it also shows that there is still hate in this world which is why racism is still around.

This mural was painted in early June of 2020 after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. The killing of George Floyd made a huge impact on the world as a whole. Protests were taken place all over the United States and across the world. Many people have painted murals and kept signs up as a tribute to George Floyd and in solidarity towards Black people. While this painting was meant to bring people together, it had a completely different message to whoever damaged it. “‘This doesn’t help at all. Nope. It’s dividing everybody,’ said Marie Cannatella,” (Chan). People who do not find anything wrong with the injustices and all of the racial inequality that occurs do these acts of hate to express how they feel about the situation. If it is someone who is not Black or a person of color, they will never understand what these people go through on a day-to-day basis. Black people and people of color should be comfortable when the police arrive, but instead, they feel unsafe and scared for their lives hoping that they get to live another day. These murals are painted for a reason. They are painted to spread awareness, support, and acknowledgment that Black lives matter today, tomorrow, and every other day. Ruining a mural dedicated to a Black life simply shows that although there are still people showing love and support, there are still people who cannot stand Black people because of the color of their skin.

Of course, this is not the only mural that was damaged because there is still a lot of hate that occurs across this country. In an article written by Christopher Placek, he states that “A banner quoting a Bible verse followed by ‘Black Lives Matter’ in front of an Arlington Heights church was damaged twice in the past week the most recent in a spate of race-based vandalism in town since May,” (Placek). These acts of hate only make the community want to do better. People gather together to make this world a better place, but not everyone is always going to agree with it. “‘It appears to be racial hatred to me when a Black Lives Matter sign is changed to Black Lives suck' and a mock lynching is hanging from the sign,’ Anderson told village board members,” (Placek). A sign being changed from its original meaning to something worse and the mural of George Floyd being defaced all falls down to the same category which is hatred. Police brutality, racial injustice, and inequality all come from others having hate towards Black people and people of color. It is not easy to overcome, but the community does everything in its power to make sure all voices are being heard, and make sure that Black people and people of color get the justice they deserve.

Esben Rey decided to repaint the mural and it was vandalized for the second time in less than two weeks. Whoever vandalized the mural wanted to make sure that the painting did not stay up. This time around the mural had red paint partially over Floyd’s face and completely covering
“Justice 4 Big Flo”, leaving the “yd” without the red painting on it. People were really waiting for it to be repainted because it did not even last two weeks. Esben Rey had great intentions while putting the mural up and even fixing it when it got defaced the first time. It is very unfortunate that there are still people who have so much hate in their hearts for Black people and people of color. Rey stated, “I thought the best way to positively interpret that was to commemorate him and paint a picture of his face,” (Chan) because of how hurt he felt towards the murdering of George Floyd.

In an article written by Sally Sorensen, she mentioned how someone did damage to a George Floyd memorial. “Deuel said it looked like someone may have backed into or ran into the memorial with a car. Wood supports were broken, and parts of a piece of artwork were crushed… ‘My kids started picking things up.’ Deuel said it was the kids who really deserved the credit for helping get the memorial back together,” (Sorensen). People do damage to these paintings, murals, and memorials all over the country because there are always going to be people with hatred towards Black people and people of color. Kids collecting what the damage caused and repairing the memorial shows that there are still people willing to help. Racism seems to be taught and these kids were raised by a family who taught their kids that the color of someone’s skin does not matter and should not matter. The more people who support and stand in solidarity for Black people and people of color, the more support these innocent people will receive from generation to generation.


Chan, Tiffany. "George Floyd Mural Defaced In Stoneham." CBS Boston, 8 June 2020,

Placek, Christopher. "Mayor condemns vandalism of church's 'Black Lives Matter' sign Vandalism: Rally at church set for today." Daily Herald [Arlington Heights, IL], 7 Aug. 2020, p. 1. Gale OneFile: News,

Sorensen, Sally J. Meanwhile in Marshall, Minnesota: George Floyd Memorial Vandalized — and Rebuilt — again. Newstex, Maynard, 2020. ProQuest,

Artifact Owner

Esben Rey, Artist

Catalog Entry Author(s)

Alejandra Obregon, Student, Fitchburg State University

ALFA Mentor

Bill Ayadi


Esben Rey


“Defaced George Floyd Mural: Stoneham, MA,” Cultural Heritage through Image, accessed September 27, 2022,

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