Police are asking the public for help after a Black Lives Matter art installation was vandalized with spray paint Thursday night in Allston, the department and local communities members said Saturday.
A photo obtained by police shows a man vandalizing the installation in the area of 321 Lincoln St. at 9:21 p.m., Boston police said in a statement Saturday. He was accompanied by a woman.
Police identified a suspect in connection to the vandalism on Sunday, and the matter is still under investigation, according to a statement.
The nature of the vandalism was not disclosed by police. It has since been cleaned up by residents.
One resident, Brandon Bowser, 34, said the “Black” in “Black Lives Matter” was spray painted black, making the word blend into the black fencing and appear to say “Lives Matter.”
The paint was still wet when residents got to cleaning the installation no later than 30 minutes after it happened, said Bowser, who was biking by while people were wiping the paint off.
“It’s amazing to see people step up immediately and fix what happened and address racism head on,” Bowser said in a telephone interview Saturday evening. “It was a blatant attack on raising black voices and we can’t allow that in society and we can’t just sit around and wait for it to be fixed.”
The piece is part of a language-based public art project titled “May This Never End,”that was installed on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in 2016. A year later, the work was relocated to Allston, where it was erected on a chain link fence on Lincoln Street.
In June, as racial unrest swept the nation over the death of George Floyd, the letters were configured to say “Black Lives Matter.”
“It was changed a few weeks ago and became a rallying point for people in Allston,” Bowser said. “People repurposed it to have it represent the community and have it really jell.”
Thursday’s incident wasn’t the first time the BLM piece had been altered to change the message. A couple of weeks ago, the letters were changed out to say “Blue Lives Matter,” a reference to police.
The vandalism don’t affect the community’s message in keeping the BLM art, he said.
“We’re here for black lives and we’re not gonna let people detract from the message that black lives matter and we’re not letting other people distract us from elevating those voices and being good allies,” Bowser said.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 617-343-4256 or leave an anonymous tip at 1-800-494-TIPS.