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Amid swirl of fellow protesters, Lancaster artists pour their emotions into mural

From the Several days of police brutality protests in Lancaster lead to tangible community change [full coverage] series
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Kaya Hobbs, 25, of Lancaster, helps to create a mural June 6, 2020, recognizing black lives lost to police brutality and other acts of racial violence. Hobbs and others created the mural in the Art Park next to Lancaster's police station.

After a historic week of marches in Lancaster, part of a national movement to bury systemic racism, a handful of young artists quietly had their say Saturday, piecing together a mosaic of black faces, each a victim of police brutality or hate-filled attack.

Working into the late afternoon under a broiling sun in downtown Lancaster’s Art Park, the local artists turned a drab plywood sheet into a colorful display centered by the somber, placid visage of George Floyd.

Surrounding Floyd’s photo were the faces of about 30 others, including Emmett Till, Eric Garner, Philando Castile and Breonna Taylor.

“Some days I don’t even know how I find the energy to even create,” Keisha Finnie, 28, of Lancaster city, said of the emotional toll she’s felt as a supporter of the movement. “But I feel it’s definitely needed in this time, and I feel like it’s part of me and what I stand for.”

Finnie said Joanna Davis, the city’s public art manager, contacted her and made arrangements with Pennsylvania College of Art & Design to allow for creating the mural in the park, which abuts Lancaster’s police headquarters, 39 W. Chestnut St. The mural’s permanent home has yet to be decided.

Art plays an important role in a social movement, Finnie said. It elevates the message and finds beauty amid the chaos.

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Keisha Finnie, 28, of Lancaster, helps to create a mural June 6, 2020, recognizing black lives lost to police brutality and other acts of racial violence. Finnie and others created the mural in the Art Park next to Lancaster's police station.

 “Art is always in the forefront of history in movements like this,” said Adam Serrano, a graphic designer who helped to create the mural.

Kaya Hobbs, 25, another of the mural creators, spoke of their need to channel their emotions and energy “in a healthy and artistic way.”

“I wish we were here under better circumstances,” Hobbs said, “but I’m glad to be here, regardless.”

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Anti-racism protesters march peacefully on June, 6, 2020, the eighth day of protests in Lancaster city.


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