Floyd monument lures tourists to Seeinjustice in square

SEEINJUSTICE art exhibition in New York
Sculptures of John Lewis and George Floyd are seen as people visit the SEEINJUSTICE art exhibition, in New York, U.S. Sept. 30, 2021.
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Throngs of tourists have been clamoring to Union Square, the 14th St. Manhattan landmark area in order to witness three images from the #Seeinjustice exhibit which will end on Oct. 30.

Their allure to the monuments mounted one month ago, pay tribute to Black Americans who made headlines in 2020 impacting a global response for social change.

From dusk to dawn visitors crowd the steps and platform inside Union Square Park to take selfies and portraits created by artist Chris Carnabuci who said the images reflect newsmakers who sparked global conversations during the worst pandemic of the 21st century.

At the centerpiece of the exhibit of a triumvirate of Black newsmakers, the image of former Cong. John Lewis, a Civil Rights activist who marched for justice with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., George Floyd and Breonna Taylor who both died by alleged police misuse of authority.

Taylor was gunned down in her home by police in Louisville, Kentucky who said they mistook her address for one alleged to harbor a criminal.

Floyd’s slow and painful demise lasted nine minutes and 29 seconds and was captured live on social media when a passersby recorded a rouge Minnesota policeman who pressed his knee against the Black man’s neck until he stopped breathing.

“I am only here for a short time but I had to see this,” Nellie Heron said. “I was in quarantine in Illinois and watched the murder last year and since I’m visiting had to see the statues I heard about.”

On a busy weekday, Heron along with others competed to position their cameras where the shiny, 10 feet busts provide keepsake photographs of their New York visit.

The exhibit reflects reminders of Black Americans whose sacrifices impacted worldview, protest rallies, and social change.

Unlike attractions which lure tourists to see permanent structures at Moscow’s Red Square, London’s Trafalgar Square, New York’s Times Square and even Manhattan’s Herald Square and Foley Square, this temporary exhibit has invited the attention of local residents curious to admire the work of an American whose vision of society can be summarized by three standing heads.

Another incentive could be that Union Square “is regarded as a gathering space for free speech and assembly for a mosaic of all religion race and ages.”

While a majority of visitors often travel with appreciation of the natural and man-made beauty usually associated with the public landmarks, occasionally deviants seeking notoriety also stop by to perpetrate criminal acts with hopes of attracting attention.

Recently one such visitor skateboarded into Union Square Park with an egregious mission to deface the George Floyd art exhibit.

The vandal was arrested and charged Monday and will remain anonymous here.

What the individual did was prepare a staining mixture, aimed it directly at the façade of the Floyd statue, At least five individuals incensed by the defacement rushed to action. They reportedly bought cleansers and before Carnabuci could see the splattered statue they erased the blemish.

He praised the community’s response saying he was heartened by their united effort particularly because they were all strangers to each other but felt a compulsion to right the wrong.

Since paint was hurled against the bronze replica of the bust of the martyred Black man, a record number of visitors have stopped by the exhibition to snap selfies and portraits of the three images.

This is the second time the Floyd bust has been defaced.

On the last Juneteenth Day commemoration on June 19, as cultural activists celebrated the day, a white nationalist hate group smeared paint on the statue which was mounted at Flatbush Ave. in Brooklyn.