Florence councilmember reacts to vandalism and threats over city’s Black Lives Matter mural

Florence leaders concerned over threats, vandalism to BLM mural

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Only weeks ago, artists, local and state leaders, and community members celebrated the completion of the Black Lives Matter mural on Barnes Street in Florence.

City councilwoman Pat Gibson Hye-Moore was one of the city leaders present as organizers introduced the artwork to the community.

Now the city is planning to remove the mural due to vandalism and threats.

“This mural is beautiful, and for someone to deface it is sheer hate. For people to call the city manager and threaten him is hate," said Gibson Hye-Moore.

Mayor Stephen Wukela released a statement last week saying the city permitted the mural with the intention it was temporary and the artists would be using biodegradable paint.

The mural’s organizer, Wyleek Cummings, said they used biodegradable paint similar to the kind used to create street lines, and understood the piece wasn’t permanent and would wash out over time.

Gibson Hye-Moore said while she’s disappointed the mural will likely be removed, she understands the city’s decision.

“Because if another organization, KKK or others wanted to paint a mural we’d have to give them the permission to do so," she said.

Many community members took part in creating the mural, spending hours to create the work of art last month.

Gibson Hye-Moore said the mural is a piece of history, She also said she’s discussing a plan with organizers to establish a safe place for future artwork and African American history to be displayed.

“Do an African American cultural center, the same as the confederate museum in Florence on Gary street and it will have art, artifacts, and tell as story the same as this mural," she said.

A timeline for the removal hasn’t been discussed, but city leaders and organizers are set to meet regarding the mural’s future on Nov. 5.

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