A newly minted mural celebrating the life of George Floyd has become a vigil in his hometown and has even attracted the attention of Houston police officers.
The mural was painted by the Houston area artist Donkeeboy on the side of Scott Food Mart on Tuesday. It depicts a black and white portrait of Floyd wearing angel wings against a bright blue background. Above him is a yellow halo that reads, “Forever breathing in our hearts.”
The 46-year-old father died in Minneapolis last week after then-officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
Visitors had already left flowers and candles at the bottom of the mural to remember the life that was lost.
Two Houston officers told CNN on Wednesday that they wanted to visit the mural to “pay our respects.”
It started with a direct message on Instagram
The artist told CNN that the idea of the memorial painting started when one of Floyd’s friends reached out to him on Instagram asking for a mural to remember Floyd.
Donkeeboy said he and his mom, who are a painting team, were finishing another job when they got the request. They immediately headed over to the site to start working on it.
“I was honored that I was asked by members of his community, and friends of his… at the same time I wish I wasn’t doing it,” Donkeeboy said.
“It was something that was very hard to do … when I was painting his face, I kept replaying the video in my head.”
The point is to keep Floyd’s memory alive
The artist said that the whole point of the mural is to keep Floyd alive and to keep others speaking his name. He wants to use what happened to bring a positive image to other people.
“I want his image and his name to be remembered. I want people to visit the mural site especially because that is where he came from,” Donkeeboy said.
He said that the imagery of the painting is significant. Donkeeboy said that he painted Floyd’s portrait without color because the situation is black and white, and he doesn’t think people should see color.
Donkeeboy also said that he was originally going to keep Floyd’s shirt blank, until some of Floyd’s friends told him that they remember him wearing shirts that said the word “Ghetto,” so he decided to include the word to honor their memories.
Donkeeboy encourages artists everywhere to start painting Floyd’s image so he won’t be forgotten.
“Art is so powerful, and art is as powerful as you want it to be,” he said. “People need to see it and walk through it on their way to work or on their way home. … We need to put his image everywhere so people can remember … that’s George Floyd.”