GREENBURGH, N.Y. — An artistic effort to unify a community is now mired in division and controversy.
Creators of a taxpayer-funded Black Lives Matter mural in suburban Westchester County included an image of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, but as CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Monday, the town board now wants Farrakhan’s portrait removed.
At 2,500 square feet, the BLM mural on Manhattan Avenue under I-287 is filled with powerful imagery, including depictions of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. and Danroy Henry, two Westchester men killed by police.
“It’s our history and it should not be erased,” Greenburgh resident Michelle Bernard said.
But some want this piece of the mural painted over due to the inclusion of Minister Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam’s controversial leader.
“He has spoken out against the Jewish community, the Asian community, the LGBT community,” Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner said.
Feiner supported public funding for the mural, but says it should not include a divisive figure such as Farrakhan.
Farrakhan was not in the sketch submitted by the designer.
Community activist Clifton Abrams says the sketch was not a blueprint and the artist had freedom to add elements.
“The honorable Minister Farrakhan is a Black leader. He did the Million Man March, had over a million people in 1995. They’re just going to dismiss that Black people look at Minister Farrakhan as a leader?” Abrams said.
Some communication issues seem to be at play here as well. On Thursday, the town board, including its two African-American members, put out a statement saying the artist had agreed to paint over the image of Farrakhan.
On Monday, members of the Nation of Islam visited the site, as muralist Kindo Art talked about the controversy.
“I haven’t made a decision to do anything. I wasn’t really sure where we stood. I was kind of told that all funding could be pulled from the project,” Art said.
The mural is on state property. On Monday, a state inspector stopped by and took pictures. The community is waiting to see how this controversy is resolved.
“The State Department of Transportation has been in contact with the town over this matter as this mural does not match what was submitted in its original permit request. We are awaiting a formal response from the town,” a spokesperson said.
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