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Activists Vow To Keep Message Going After Motorist Defaces BLACK LIVES MATTER Art

Brian Bull

Less than a day after it was finished, a large “BLACK LIVES MATTER” mural painted outside the Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse in Eugene was vandalized. 

Dark tire treads were burned in a wavy pattern across the entirety of the mural painted on 8th Avenue.  Eugene Police released surveillance photos of an orange car – possibly a Dodge Charger or Challenger – that was on the scene Friday night, around 10:30.  (UPDATE: Investigators say they've since found the car and its driver, and no longer need the public's assistance)

Credit Eugene Police Department
Two images provided by EPD show an orange/yellow muscle car - possibly a Dodge Charger or Challenger - near the federal courthouse where the mural was marred.

Saturday, members of the Eugene BIPOC Artists Collective were back, painting over the treadmarks. Shawn Goddard says when he heard of the vandalism, he came and added white handprints to the damaged section.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
About a dozen members of Eugene BIPOC Artists Collective came back Saturday to paint over the tread marks. Shawn Goddard earlier had applied white handprints to the damaged areas, as a way to reclaim and "adapt" the artwork.

“I just happened to have white paint in the back of my car," laughs Goddard.  "And in graffiti, this happens. Somebody will mark out your tag, or do something, and you have to adapt.  You have to figure out: how do you turn that into more art?”

Goddard also tells KLCC that he’s not surprised that someone’s already vandalized the mural, calling it someone's "five minutes of fame" type of incident.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say, 'Well, it’s in the street, what do you expect?'" he adds. 

Credit Jason Coon
Aerial overhead photo of the mural after it was completed June 19, 2020.

"The street is a place where we all go when we find democracy is lacking. The street is also where the most downtrodden and most forgotten people live.

"So yes, the street is a place to have a protest, the street is a place to put this type of message.  And it is vandalism for one person to feel that their voice should be louder than a whole city, a whole county, a whole nation. That’s not right.”

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Eugene Police were by Saturday morning to measure the tracks and film the damage.

Meanwhile, Goddard says Sunday his organization is inviting black, brown, indigenous people, and members of the LGBTQ community to show unity by painting their individual handprints on the mural. He says this incident is bringing many folks together, through empathy.

"The pain’s already there, already real. Now you have other people reaching out and empathizing this is disgraceful and doesn’t speak for Eugene at large.  But we’re dealing with the same things that we’ve been dealing with so long ago. 

"So it's not gone away, it’s prevalent, so we need to fight just as hard."

Copyright 2020, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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