Senior Dundee councillors have condemned the vandalism of a mural paying tribute to American George Floyd, and have backed the Black Lives Matter campaign.
The mural was painted by Dundee graffiti artist Symon Mathieson – also known as SYKE – last week to show solidarity with those protesting police brutality and to help shine a light on racism in Scotland.
However, it was defaced with a ‘white supremacist symbol’ over Mr Floyd’s face, and the word ‘Black’ painted over, leaving the message underneath reading, “Lives Matter”.
George Floyd died while being restrained by police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis last month, with his death sparking protests around the world.
Footage of the incident shows the officer with his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck, who is heard saying, “I can’t breathe”, before going silent and not moving. People at the scene were seen to be pleading with the officer to let him go.
Mr Chauvin has since been charged with murder.
John Alexander, leader of Dundee City Council said: “Let us be absolutely clear that Dundee City Council stands against racism in the city, in Scotland and across the world.
“We do not pretend that there is not a problem here and an act of aggression and ignorance towards an artistic response to a global crisis unfortunately illustrates that point perfectly.
“Like everyone else I have seen these things on social media, on the TV and in the news, but acts like this one in the Hilltown bring it right to our doorsteps with an impact on us.”
Councillor Lynne Short, the council’s equalities spokeswoman, added: “We stand with black and minority ethnic communities and we want to listen to what should be done to root out the evil of racism once and for all.
“It has no place in Dundee, no place in Scotland and no place in a world where hundreds of thousands of people are putting themselves on the line during a pandemic to say ‘enough is enough’ and it is time for fundamental change. We are listening and asking what is needed of us to make the most impact.
“Black Lives Matter in Dundee, the same as they do in Minneapolis, London and everywhere else where the blight of racism must be defeated.”
Councillor Kevin Cordell, convener of Dundee City Council’s community safety and public protection committee, said: “The direct action taken by the people of Dundee to reinstate the mural and make their voices heard is commendable but the bigger question for all of us now becomes what are we going to do about it?
“We need to be clear and concise about the specifics of what is wrong, what needs to change and in what ways we will do something.”