The Pottergate Underpass has become the site of a controversy concerning street art for the second time this month. Murals expressing support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement have been scrawled over with racist sentiments and slurs.
Photos of the mural show names of victims of racism and police brutality being crossed out, and several slogans prominently featured in BLM discussions and marches have been written over. Some of these additions include swearing and racialised language.
The underpass murals were originally painted by Ruth Knapp, a Norwich-based artist, known as “Knapple.” Knapp posted pictures of her work on her Instagram account back on 1st June, shortly before the Norwich city council’s decision to have much of it painted over.
Following outcry from local residents, business-owners, and Norwich Pride, the council issued a statement explaining the cover-up had been a mistake:
“A complaint was made about offensive graffiti in the city,” a spokeswoman said. “It was made online and went straight through an automated system to our contractor who, unfortunately, took action to paint over the mural.
“This has been a terrible misunderstanding and we will urgently work with our contractor to correct it. We do not consider this in any way to be offensive graffiti, we consider it an important work of art… We would like to commission the artist to reinstate the work.”
Since then, Knapple has reinstated the mural, which now reads “EDUCATE ON EQUALITY,” and features a large painting of a black panther, the insignia of the political organisation formed in the US in 1966.
In the intervening time between the mural’s disappearance and restoration, a passer-by had drawn a heart on the blanked-out wall, encircling the letters “BLM”.
However, before the council had painted over much of the mural, it had already been altered by people who disagreed with the sentiments it expressed.
Photos by Josh Sibbering taken shortly after the work was finished in early June, show the word “LIES” had been written on the moniker “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”
Thus far the council has not commented on these latest developments.