The Pottergate Underpass has become the site of newsworthy graffiti sabotage 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 show the names of victims of racism and police brutality, including Sarah Reed and Shukri Abdi, have been crossed out, and the slogan “We shall not be silenced” has been interrupted by the word “BULLSHIT.”
Other messages have been added to the murals, including one written close to the pavement which reads: “MEDIA FEEDS YOU LIES! OBEY THE PROPAGANDA,” along with: “CORPORATE WANKERS.” Another addition features a picture of a sheep above the words, “BAH-BAH.”
The underpass murals were originally painted by Norwich-based artist, Ruth Knapp, known as “Knapple.” Knapp posted pictures of her work on her Instagram account back on June 1, shortly before the council’s controversial 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.”
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.”
With regards to the latest alterations, it appears unlikely a misunderstanding in the council’s online graffiti-report portal is to blame, but that it is the work of bigoted opponents of the BLM movement.
The Norwich city council website vows to remove all hateful and offensive graffiti within 24 hours, and it now remains to be seen whether the mural will need to be painted over again to remove its current content.