A mural on display by Radio Free Brooklyn depicting 20,000 lies told by President Donald Trump was vandalized with the pro-Trump messages including “Vote Trump or Die” and “Stand back & Stand by.”
The 50 foot by 10 foot outdoor mural was unveiled last weekend by the community radio station in order to draw attention to a slew of mistruths told by the president since he first took office.
“In this time where misinformation is rampant, we feel it’s vital to use our voice to call out these untruths in a visually-provoking way,” said Radio Free Brooklyn Executive Director Tom Tenney.
The project was originally meant to be an on-air reading of Trump’s most egregious lies, but was transitioned into a visual display at the suggestion of artist Phil Buehler.
Buehler, a Bushwick based photographer with a bi-weekly photo column in Bushwick Daily titled “Art of Garbage: A Decade in Bushwick” created the colorful mural using 20,000 lies that have been fact checked by the Washington Post.
But during his walk to his studio this morning, he noticed vandalism strewn across his work.
“In the distance I could see something was off. At first I thought the neighborhood kids tagged it with graffiti, but when I got closer I saw it was the whole wall, and when I got even closer I saw what it said on it.”
“That was like a gut punch,” he said.
Massive circles were drawn around the lies with the messages “Vote Trump or Die” and “Stand back & Stand by” – a reference to the president’s statement addressing the far-right, neo-fascist group, the Proud Boys, during last week’s presidential debate.
Buehler told Bushwick Daily he was disappointed and disheartened by the hurtful messages on top of his work, especially after having such a successful event unveiling the project last weekend.
“We had an awesome turnout on Saturday and Sunday. Everybody really enjoyed it, and it felt celebratory bringing to light again all of these lies,” he said.
Over the weekend, Radio Free Brooklyn hosted a voter registration drive, and an on air event to accompany the unveiling of the mural. The visual art piece was originally supposed to be on view for just two days, but the station decided to keep it up longer after receiving such positive feedback from the community.
“I think people were very proud that it was here in Bushwick,” Buehler said. The event attracted crowds of people and even drew US Senator Chuck Schumer to the neighborhood.
After seeing the graffiti, Buehler called his coworkers at Radio Free Brooklyn, but the team didn’t let it bring them down.
“At first there was shock. Then they got totally in gear, and said ‘we can’t let this stop us.’”
In response to the vandalism, the team set up an emergency GoFund me to raise money to reprint the mural. In just a matter of hours, the radio station has raised nearly $2,000.
“It felt uplifting to see that the community adopted it and really wanted to help,” Buehler said.
Buehler explained that if they raise enough money to reprint a new mural, they’re hoping to keep it up until election day. And if they surpass their fundraising goal, they said they would print another mural and send it to a different neighborhood.
“The community wanted to fight back and support this,” he said. In a way, Buehler explained, the vandalism turned into a positive message of resilience.
Though the vandalized mural still stands, Buehler printed out a piece of paper to place over the graffiti explaining what the radio station is doing in response, along with a QR code that community members can use to donate to the GoFundMe page.
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