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Black Cat Alley mural on Milwaukee's east side vandalized

Posted at 2:43 PM, Nov 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-07 19:21:41-05

MILWAUKEE -- A mural depicting an incarcerated African-American man was vandalized on Milwaukee's east side Tuesday.

Locals are disheartened because they say the mural, part of the "Black Cat Alley" program, was more than just a mural - it was art with a deeper message.

"This is more than a mural or imagery, it's actually a real person. It's a person's real pain and real situation," said Samuel Alford.

The vandal, or vandals, spray-painted all over the mural called “Devontay.” It was created by Adam Stoner, in hopes of addressing high incarceration rates for African-American men.

Stacy Williams-Ng, the program director of the Black Cat Alley, says she will be reporting the incident to Milwaukee Police.

"This is very unusual, clearly somebody out there is very, very angry," said Williams-Ng. 

Stoner shared the following statement Tuesday with TODAY'S TMJ4 about the vandalism: 

 To be completely honest I am not saddened by the destruction of this mural. If I owned the image (which I don’t — artists, take note), I would have taken it down almost a year ago when the criticism was first raised. 

Although I have been praised by a number of individuals for highlighting an issue—and I respect many of those individuals, and I know they respect me—I have to consider the artwork beyond the intent. What does the artwork actually do? After hundreds of conversations — with African Americans from Milwaukee, with the formerly incarcerated, with mothers, with brothers and sisters of the incarcerated — we can focus in on a single fact: people were hurt by this image. It is triggering and it reinforces cultural narratives surrounding the criminality of Blackness. This is not how everyone sees it… but one person seeing it this way is enough for me. 

I’ve been trying to get this image taken down and replaced in earnest for months. But now I am very scared that someone out there could receive a misdemeanor or felony charge over a problem I instigated. It is a horrific irony that, because of this mess, a Milwaukee citizen could be incarcerated, or face tremendous fines that not only hinder their future, but potentially their family's. I am **strongly advocating** that no charges be pressed. Charging someone displays that BCA doesn’t understand the mission of the work, and is not qualified to speak about my intent or represent me.