The Northwest Neighborhood Alliance and local artist Aaron Kizer will not let hate win. After their collaborative mural was vandalized with racial messages Wednesday morning, members of the Alliance and Kizer said they’ll repaint the wall at Kendall Perkins Park a thousand times if they have to.
The Northwest Neighborhood Alliance, led by chairperson Rafe Buckner, began a collaboration with Kizer last year to create a timeline of African art meant to celebrate unity and the Black community.
Two panels were recently completed, but both were defaced around 8:20 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Owensboro Police Department. At roughly 1 p.m. Wednesday, OPD released a photo of the suspected culprit via its Facebook page, though an arrest had not yet been made.
Sheila Crowe, vice president of the Alliance, said the group was looking into potential leads regarding the person who vandalized the mural. They are also already working on a plan to prevent the same thing from happening again.
She said the neighborhood surrounding Kendall Perkins Park was on high alert for potential vandalism and that more lights may be added to put the mural in the spotlight.
“We’re working with the City to come up with a resolution to this issue. We’re upset, but we were aware of the [potential threat of vandalism]. It’s just something that we hate to see,” Crowe said. “This is something we want to bring the community together — whether your race is Black, White, Hispanic — whatever your race may be. We wanted it to be something that brings us together and not divide us.”
Kizer told Owensboro Times the entire mural would have to be repainted from scratch, starting with a new coat of black paint that would cover all the work done thus far, as well as the racial slurs and symbols that destroyed it.
“We have a latex paint on the wall that I put on there. The spray paint is oil-based, so it would constantly bleed back through, no matter what we do,” he said. “Even if we put a stain blocker on there, then we’re right back at the same spot by covering up so much of the image that I can’t paint on top of it again.”
Kizer said the silver lining — if one exists — in repainting the entire thing is that it’s easier than patching up the current mural. The act of covering up the racist language and drawings would also carry a symbolic message, he added.
“Throwing something positive on top of that — it’s the same representation as before, and we’re about to do it again,” Kizer said. “So metaphorically, it’s the uphill battle constantly.”
Crowe remained hopeful as she discussed the message of division and racism stemming from the incident, saying she agreed with Kizer’s approach of persistence and love in resurrecting the mural.
“This gives us more insight on the reinforcement we need down here at the wall. Moving forward, we’ll handle things accordingly with that,” Crowe said. “Earlier, Aaron Kizer said, ‘We’ll repaint it a thousand times if we have to,’ and I agree. Hate never wins with us.”
In a Facebook post, Kizer explained that he wasn’t upset about his artwork being destroyed. Instead, he was upset with the message of hate.
“The outrage and upset is that hate drove someone to do this,” the post reads. “The community raised funds and worked closely with the city for years to make this happen. This is not about my artwork. This is about someone’s disgusting display of hate trying to drown out hope and unity. Trying to drown out voices and history that matters. We will paint it again, and again and again. Hate doesn’t win. Love wins.”