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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

34th Street Wall to be painted black for Ferguson solidarity project

The colorful murals on the  34th Street Wall will be painted black in solidarity with Ferguson this Sunday.

Gainesville is Ferguson, a student-organized mural project, will take place at 1 p.m., and its organizer, James Predelus, said the event has one goal: to challenge young adults to move away from social media and get their hands dirty. 

“Instead of people balling up their fists with a rock, they can ball it up with a brush, thus channeling their frustrations in a meaningful way,” the UF marketing junior said.

Predelus, 21, hopes to paint 90 percent of the wall black and stencil messages, such as “Gainesville is Ferguson” and “Michael Brown” with white paint. The event will also address a Staten Island grand jury’s decision to not indict a white New York police officer for the death of Eric Garner, who died during the officer’s chokehold as he was being arrested for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.

To make the project more interactive, Predelus is also including the phrase “All Lives Matter” in hopes that volunteers will add their names to justify the statement.

“The idea came about when I noticed a lot of my fellow leaders hashtagging and commenting on social media about the verdict to not indict Darren Wilson,“ Predelus said, “meanwhile not being proactive with their minds and bodies to construct a solution or build awareness.”

Predelus said he is using social media to find volunteers and to fund mural supplies, which he said could cost about $300.

“I think people are excited that the mural is happening,” Predelus said. “I believe I gave them a creative alternative to a peaceful protest. I have received a great deal of constructive feedback and donations as a result.”

Predelus said he recognizes that not everyone will agree with the mural and respects their opinions and beliefs. But the event is still expected to generate about 50 volunteers from both the Gainesville and campus community.

The mural will allow residents to respond to the events in Ferguson peacefully and proactively, said Veleashia Smith, director of the Institute of Black Culture.

“The Ferguson decision was a major blow to the black community, and everybody wants to find some type of way to help and to feel as if they are making a difference,” Smith said. “This mural is a response to showing solidarity to the community in Ferguson and that we will not tolerate injustice.”

[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 12/5/2014]

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