a back alley in Toronto tagged entirely in black and grey in tribute to George Floyd

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In Toronto, we hope to get the message : “the lives of black count”. Forty artists have revisited “Graffiti Alley”, an alley in the city centre of Toronto is famous for its graffiti-colourful, with drawings and portraits in honor of the anti-racism movement “Black Lives Matter”.

The frescoes, in majority carried out in different levels of black and grey, contrast with the vivid colors of the other paintings of this alley is popular with the tourists, located in the south of the largest city in Canada. The illustrations in particular of the leading figures of the black community, such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, or victims of police violence.

A tag of Martin Luther King, achieved in the Graffiti Alley of Toronto. Cole BURSTON / AFP

Among them: George Floyd, an African-American whose death last month at the hands of police in Minneapolis has provoked an unprecedented wave of protests in the United States and around the world. The portrait of George Floyd represents it with a headband, tape on the mouth, on which one can read “I can’t breathe”in reference to the last words that he spoke when he was tackled to the ground by a police officer. “But we can hear you”, responds to him, in writing, the graffiti artist who composed this drawing.

A beginning of conversation

The project, completed last weekend, is a “peaceful protest” for the purpose of “raising awareness”, and “show of support” artists at the anti-racism movement, explains to the AFP Moises Frank, who helped to coordinate the graffiti around this initiative. “To use art as a tool to denounce oppression, it is a way both beautiful and powerful protest”said the young man 25 years of age. “People are going to wake up and realize that (racism) is a problem that we can no longer ignore. I hope that it is only at the very beginning of the conversation”.

One of the murals depicts a black panther with eyes of orange, a tribute to the activists of the Black Panthers. Another shows a raised fist above which one can read “We continue to fight for the lives of black”.

A black panther with eyes of orange, a tribute to the activists of the Black Panthers. Olivier MONNIER / AFP

On his side, Moises Frank was chosen to paint the face of Zianna Oliphant, a girl american whose speech in 2016 in the city of Charlotte, in the United States, following the death of a black man, shot by a police officer, had marked the spirits. “See this little girl (…) burst into tears in speaking of the injustices suffered by her community, it was powerful and moving”, “he explains. “I hope that in the course of her life, she will see things change”.

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