Mural of Nelson Mandela to be destroyed by Montreal Police
A group of teenagers in my community sent out the following email last night, with a petition attached. Please help them save a beautiful piece of artwork that they have tried very hard to save. "Hey everybody, Since the beginning of June a group of us artists have been working on this mural in cote des neiges with the theme UPTOWN UNITY across from Plamondon metro on Barclay and Victoria. This was my first big project that I've coordinated and it involved three big walls. The project was supported by Prevention NDG and we had the permission of the building owner, but the police were very present throughout the project and now that its almost finished they want it removed and are planning to paint over it on Saturday. The police have scared the building owner by calling the mural a gang mural and telling him his windows are going to get smashed. PLEASE READ THE PETITION. If you want to get involved you can print a petition and collect signatures-- we need to be able to show that we have support! "This summer’s mural project on the corner of Barclay and Victoria Avenues in Côte des Neiges is avaluable community art project supported by Prevention NDG, which facilitates the creation of murals in the NDG‐ Côte des Neiges borough in collaboration with graffiti artists and building owners. The Uptown Unity mural was organized and painted by young local artists who volunteered their time and talent to the creation of this community art. They obtained the consent of the building owner to paint the three walls of the dépanneur, and throughout the project welcomed feedback from various members of the local neighborhood who came by to watch the creation. The young artists made well thought‐out decisions regarding imagery, including a portrait of Nelson Mandela on the wall facing the park named after this iconic recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Indeed, the selection of figures such as Mandela and Bob Marley to include on the mural as well as the involvement of an ethno‐culturally diverse range of amateur and professional artists from across the city, both served to reinforce the central message of the mural: Uptown Unity. The benefits of community art are well researched and documented, and local neighborhood murals serve important functions such as fostering a sense of communal pride and solidarity. Furthermore, contemporary community murals provide critical legitimized opportunities for the artists involved to showcase their skills. It is most ironic and unfortunate then, that the Uptown Unity mural has been described by Station 26 of the City of Montreal Police department as gang related and that the police have asked that the mural be removed. Despite the ongoing presence of police cruisers around the site of the mural throughout its production and despite artists on site having been asked by police officers to show identification on more than one occasion apparently Montreal’s police department remains skeptical. Specifically, the police have stated that “UPTOWN” and “160” refer to the names of street gangs, and that Nelson Mandela is too controversial and political a figure to appear on the mural. "We the undersigned—as parents, community workers, artists, educators, and other concerned citizens—support the Uptown Unity mural and understand it to be a valuable piece of community art. We call for the mural to be left in place where it can be enjoyed by local residents and passers‐by alike and for the police to discontinue their attempts to have it removed." For more information, you can call me at 514-654-4255.