CLEVELAND — The Black Lives Matter mural that stretches across Cleveland's East 93rd Street between Bessemer and Heath avenues has been defaced.
3News captured images at the mural Tuesday morning that show "BLM IS MARXIST" and "STOP KILLING EACH OTHER" were written on the mural.
Ricky Smith, who helped bring the mural together earlier this month, expressed his disappointment on Twitter.
"No no nope. I don't want that to be the narrative," Smith tweeted. "Thousands of people have left their comfort zones to go check out the amazing work. One person felt left out and wasn't loved enough as a child. I'm not going to let the one mess up the energy of the thousands."
You may recognize Smith's name as he's also the man behind RAKE, which stands for Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere.
"Guess I have to buy some paint and touch up these beautiful works today," he tweeted. "Thankful and grateful that the weather is good today!"
According to Cleveland Police Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia, a criminal mischief report on the incident has been completed. She adds that there is an internal investigation underway regarding the photo of the officer above who appeared to be sleeping in his cruiser.
On Tuesday afternoon, Cleveland City Councilman Blaine Griffin released the following statement about the incident.
I am somewhat shocked that a man, apparently possessing some pent-up anger, would boldly step out in broad daylight to deface the newly painted "Black Lives Matter" mural on East 93rd Street. The mural is a community effort, calling for justice and raising the issue of institutional racism.
Nearby residents have taken pictures of a middle aged African-American male defacing the mural by writing over it with messages not consistent with the unifying message the mural represents.
I am extremely disappointed and outraged that someone is so selfish to push his own agenda -- one that is demeaning to the greater community. This man has no right to disregard the artistic expression created by hundreds of artists and community volunteers.
There is also a false narrative put out, saying there were nearby police sleeping while the mural was being vandalized. I have not seen any evidence to prove that nor have the residents. There has been a very limited police presence. Police have been socializing with residents, playing with the children and coming to enjoy the mural themselves. It is so unfortunate that other people who clearly have different agendas would try to tarnish this project.
We will keep the street closed until the morning of Monday, July 6th. We will restore the mural to reflect its original intent and expose anyone who wants to damage it.
We will also continue to embrace the visitors that have come to visit the mural. People have come from as far as New York and Washington, D.C., to see the painted street mural. Many groups have bussed in children and various groups including churches, sororities and fraternities. We will continue to have activities to shine a positive light on East 93rd. On Sunday, July 5th, we will host the Line Dance King, Robert Johnson, Jr. at 5:00 pm. We will encourage masks be worn and be safe and physically distant.
A message to this individual:
You do not have the right to make your opinion more important than the rest of us. We will not allow your selfishness and disrespect for this community to be a distraction from this unifying message. It is not about you. It is about the collective community. The “Gravity of this Moment” has caused many of us to use this as a time for introspection and self-reflection about how we can be part of the solution and demand change. This Black Lives Matter mural means a lot to this community and you need to respect that.
Last week, 3News featured a story from the mural of a mother who found comfort in seeing her son's name included in the artwork. You can watch that piece in the player below:
- RELATED: Grieving mother finds comfort after seeing her son's name in Cleveland Black Lives Matter mural
- RELATED: East 93rd Street in Cleveland to remain closed due to 'Black Lives Matter' mural visitation
- RELATED: Watch again: 3News hosts 'Turning Point II,' a special discussing racism in America
- RELATED: Kids bring hope to the future with 'Black Lives Matter' toddler march
- RELATED: Watch again | From protests to progress - 3News hosts 'Turning Point: The Conversation'