Downtown Raleigh mural defaced with ‘racist’ messages

The mural in downtown Raleigh depicting iconic protest images, including last year’s Women’s March on Washington and the 1968 Olympics Black Power salute, has been defaced.

Messages written in several colors referencing slavery, the Civil War and World War II appeared on the mural Wednesday morning.

The North Carolina Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union commissioned Dare Coulter, a graduate of N.C. State University, to paint the 30-by-20-foot mural last summer. The mural is on the Salisbury Street side of the Boylan-Pearce building at 216 Fayetteville St.

The damage to the building is worth about $1,000, according to the police report.

“The general idea was that is was a mural about protesters’ rights,” Coulter said Wednesday. “So it was honoring the people who made these sacrifices. It’s honoring the commitment to not letting bigots, or racists, or whatever cause it is that people are representing, win.”

One of the messages that appeared Wednesday reads, “The north convinced the blacks to be lured by factories, where they could be legally regulated into poverty. b/c they were broke.” A Confederate flag was drawn above the text.

“They convinced yall to hate the only people who ever fought the gov’t,” another message reads.

Coulter spent about 10 days last summer painting the mural. She said she had conversations with the ACLU at the time about the possibility of the mural being defaced.

Coulter said she thought if the mural would be vandalized, she expected it would be soon after she finished it. Some of her friends walked by the mural last year to check if it had been vandalized, she said.

“Whenever you have something that’s got political weight to it, there’s going to be someone who’s upset,” Coulter said.

“I don’t know who was upset, but clearly somebody was upset enough to come out here with Sharpies in the middle of the night and write stuff on it.”

Coulter said she plans to paint over the messages she characterized as racist. But in the meantime, she said, she worries that people who see the defaced mural will assume the vandalism is part of the mural’s message.

“When the mural is back, it’ll just be exactly what is was before, except we have this element of resilience because racism isn’t going to stop us,” Coulter said.

“Bigotry isn’t going to stop us. One person screaming foul things in the wind isn’t going to stop us. And the message is still just as powerful as it was before, if not more.”

Camila Molina: 919-829-4538, @Cmolina__