A mural memorializing slain African-American teen Michael Brown—a shooting by police that set off waves of riots in Ferguson, Mo., and helped birth the Black Lives Matter movement—will be painted over and replaced with logos for Bonfire Lounge, Babydoll Pizza and the other businesses in the Stark Street building, if Bonfire and Babydoll owner Travis Miranda has his way.
That's a misquote, says Miranda.
"I said I did not like the painting and that others around here did not," he says.
The mural shows an ethereal Michael Brown releasing a dove. It was painted the week after police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Brown in August 2014.
The painting was already censored, in part. Originally, it showed policemen in swat gear behind Brown, but Bonfire's then-owner George Kassapakis asked Montague to cover the police with black paint after Montague completed the mural. Kassapakis still owns the building, but Miranda bought Bonfire Lounge in February.
Now, Miranda wants the whole mural painted over.
"It's time for a change," Miranda says.
He doesn't like the "current state of the mural" since someone tagged it with a peace sign and the phrases "R.I.P. MB" and "cops killed me" earlier this month. Miranda had a painter come cover the tags.
"I'm all about spreading awareness for social injustice," Miranda says, "but I don't want that portrayal of violence when there are a lot of kids in this neighborhood."
By "violence," Miranda is referring to the painted-over SWAT officers—covered with black paint since 2014.
"They might ask what's behind the black paint," Miranda says of passing children. "It's an artistic depiction of him being shot. I don't know what kids think."
Instead, he wants the image of a black man releasing a dove to be replaced by painted logos of the businesses occupying that block.
"We will probably leave it alone for a while for fear of anyone coming back," Miranda says. He doesn't want people tagging the Bonfire building or breaking windows.
It's not a question of racism, Miranda says. "I am a Puerto Rican," he says, "so I have been racially profiled in my life."