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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Terrell Bradley advocates grapple with racist messages, images painted over 34th Street mural

Bradley and others repainted the mural for the third time Friday

<p>The mural on Southwest 34th Street is shown defaced with blue spray paint depicting a swastika and the phrase, “God Bless Derek Chauvin.&quot;</p>

The mural on Southwest 34th Street is shown defaced with blue spray paint depicting a swastika and the phrase, “God Bless Derek Chauvin."

A mural on Southwest 34th Street was painted with messages demanding justice for Terrell Bradley Thursday night. Hours later, the message was defaced with symbols of hate. 

Friends and family of Terrell Bradley woke up early Friday morning to paint over the hateful messages left on a mural demanding justice for Bradley, who lost an eye to a Gainesville Police Department K-9 after he fled from police last month. 

Police pulled Bradley over for a traffic violation and asked him to exit his car July 10. Upon exiting, Bradley fled after elbowing one of the officers who pulled him over, according to a sworn complaint affidavit. Police found Bradley hiding in the bushes at the Eden Park apartment complex when the K-9 attacked Bradley, taking his eye. 

In response to the Bradley incident, community advocates painted a mural demanding GPD Police Chief Lonnie Scott release the body and dash camera footage from the violent encounter between Bradley and the K-9, which activist Danielle Chanzes said could speed up the investigation and provide clarity. 

The mural on Southwest 34th Street was defaced with blue spray paint depicting a swastika and the phrase, “God Bless Derek Chauvin,” referencing the Minneapolis police officer convicted of George Floyd’s 2020 murder. The mural’s defacement comes shortly after antisemitic and white supremacist flyers were found in Gainesville neighborhoods. 

The Bradley incident led to other responses from the community, such as a protest July 17, a people’s investigation July 23 and a police advisory council sit-in July 27

The mural stood untouched until Thursday morning when residents learned it had been painted over in all black, Chanzes said. 

“We kind of just decided, look, it’s another blank canvas,” Chanzes said. “Let’s write a new message.” 

Chanzes joined residents Thursday night to paint a new message on the wall: a response. 

“You can cover up our messages, but you can’t stop our movement,” the message reads. “It’s #JusticeForTerrellBradley Every. Damn. Day.” 

Residents finished repainting the mural Thursday night around 10 p.m., Chanzes said. By 2 a.m., it was vandalized a second time with blue spray paint. The mural’s defacement with symbols of white supremacy didn’t phase her, Chanzes said. 

“We’re seeing people’s true colors,” she said. “This is about a message of hate.” 

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GPD didn’t respond to requests for comment as of Saturday afternoon.

Brandon Middleton, Bradley’s 31-year-old close friend, said repainting the mural showed Bradley’s friends and family aren’t afraid to support him. 

“We’re not going to stop from getting the justice needed for Terrell,” Middleton said. 

The incident showed how race is playing a role in the response to Bradley’s incident gaining more attention, he said. But it also renewed his desire to fight for what they believe in. 

“It just showed how racism still exists,” Middleton said. “That just shows how disrespectful people are and how ugly and nasty people still can get.” 

Contact Jackson Reyes at Follow him on Twitter @JacksnReyes.

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Jackson Reyes

Jackson Reyes is a third-year sports journalism major. He is the Gator's soccer beat reporter and previously worked as a general assignment reporter on the Metro desk. When he's not reporting, he enjoys collecting records and taking long walks on the beach. 

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