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George Floyd memorial vandalized — and rebuilt — again

Submitted photo The center section of a local art display in memory of George Floyd was knocked down over the weekend.

MARSHALL — A display of artwork remembering George Floyd and others has taken a lot of damage over the past two months.

“This is the fourth generation we’ve had of it,” said Julie Walker. The display, located in the parking lot of the Southwest Minnesota State University Alumni and Foundation Center building on East College Drive, was knocked down once by high winds. It was vandalized with spray paint. Over the weekend, part of the display was knocked down again, likely by a vehicle.

“My heart dropped, honestly,” said Walker, one of the organizers of the art memorial. “To ram a car into something, that’s a really aggressive way to try and make a point.”

While the display is smaller than before, Walker said, it’s been cleaned up and repaired with the help of an area family.

The display was put up in early June, with work by local artists remembering Floyd and other people who had died because of police violence. Jordan Deuel said he and his family liked to drive by the memorial and check it out. But, he said, “When we drove by it (on Saturday), my oldest daughter noticed everything was knocked down and out of place.”

Deuel said it looked like someone may have backed into or ran into the memorial with a car. Wood supports were broken, and parts of a piece of artwork were crushed in a way that wind damage likely wouldn’t do, Walker said.

It was disappointing to see the display knocked down, Deuel said. But then, he said, “My kids started picking things up.”

Deuel said it was the kids who really deserved the credit for helping get the memorial back together.

“It says a lot when children are working to fix a problem adults can’t fix,” Deuel said. While the issues represented by the memorial are complex, kids show it’s not always complicated to respond to them, he said. “They don’t view things through the lens that adults do, sometimes.”

Walker said she learned about the vandalism from Deuel, and helped repair the display. She reported the new damage to both SMSU campus security and the Marshall Police. She said she will also in contact SMSU to ask about the memorial’s future. The original plan for the artwork was for it to be on display through the month of June.

“We’ve been grateful for SMSU,” and their permission to display the artwork, Walker said.

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