MIAMI – Kyle Holbrook said he was working on a mural about the Surfside tragedy Wednesday when a reporter told him his George Floyd mural in Overtown had been vandalized.
The artist was out Thursday morning to restore his painting at the corner of Northwest 1st Avenue and 16th Street.
“We live in America, and the great thing about it is, you can have different views,” Holbrook said. “But if your view is hate, you never win.”
Holbrook first painted the mural in memory of Floyd shortly after he was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020, which set off a powerful movement against systemic racism.
He touched up his work this May on the anniversary of Floyd’s death.
But this week the words “death is 4ever” were plastered over Floyd’s face in the mural, and X marks were painted on his eyes and forehead.
Holbrook, who took about an hour to remove the damage, said this has never happened to one of his pieces before.
“I mean, honestly, this is the perfect example of what a loser does,” he said.
Miami police say they have launched an investigation into the vandalism.
Holbrook has painted several murals around the Miami area, including ones depicting Kamala Harris, Kobe Bryant, “Tiger King” Joe Exotic, and Miami Heat players wearing masks to protect against COVID-19.
Like Holbrook’s, other murals of Floyd across the country have been similarly destroyed.
He said whoever did this in Miami also put something on the paint that burnt his fingers, so he was wearing a glove Thursday.
Holbrook has a message for those choosing to vandalize.
“Maybe why don’t you find a hobby or play some video games or something,” he said. “But you’re out here trying to destruct a community memorial, and it means more than you. It’s bigger than you. No matter how many times you destroy it, I’ll come out here and fix it because it’s for the community.”
The Floyd mural was sponsored by MLKmural.com.