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This Sandra Bland Mural In Canada Was Defaced Just Hours After Going Up

"This will not be accepted."

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Just a day after it was painted, a colourful tribute to Sandra Bland was defaced in Ottawa.

The mural, on a public wall of graffiti art in downtown Ottawa, started earlier this month with a minimalist piece saying "Black Lives Matter" by a group called Blak Collectiv. It didn't take long for it to be covered in tags.

Whoever tagged over the piece crossed out "Blak Collectiv" and wrote "stay off."

Artists who are regular contributors to the wall, known as the Tech Wall, apparently took issue with the quality of the work and the fact that it covered up other pieces. Local artist Mike Gall told Metro Ottawa that he's "all for people protesting, but think of what you’re doing first."

“It’s our community that’s been painting here for so long, and we take offense to stuff like this, no matter what the cause,” he told Metro.

Soon after, the entire message was covered with a piece reading "Wu-Tang is for the children."

In support of the Black Lives Matter movement and to diffuse the situation, artists Kalkidan Assefa and Allan Andre painted a portrait of Sandra Bland.

Bland, a black woman, died in a Texas jail cell on July 13 after being stopped for a traffic violation. Sheriff’s Department officials said Bland's death was a suicide, though those who knew Bland are questioning the circumstances of her death and an independent review has been launched. She was 28 at the time of her death.

Neither Assefa or Andre are part of Blak Collectiv of Ottawa's Black Lives Matter coalition. "We're just artists in the community who wanted to support the [black lives matter] message and intention in a positive way," Assefa told BuzzFed Canada.


About 24 hours later, the portrait had been defaced with the line "All Lives Matter" written over Bland's name.

Facebook: BLMOttawa

"All Lives Matter" is typically used as a response to "Black Lives Matter." Activists have criticized it as a form of erasure — a way of downplaying the importance of supporting black communities.

In a statement The Black Lives Matter - Ottawa Coalition said it "will NOT accept this as a reality of our city’s treatment of the importance of Black lives and will continue to take a stance against such racist actions."

By 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, community members had restored the mural "to its near original state."

"The chapter thanks everyone who was involved in aiding to maintain the image of our Black women in our world. This will not be accepted," the group said.

Lauren Strapagiel is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada.

Contact Lauren Strapagiel at

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