The Municipal Services Building in Philadelphia has been a frequent site of protest since unrest first emerged over the murder of George Floyd. The building might seem like an unlikely focal point for protests over racism, however, it was home to contentious piece of public art– a statue of former mayor Frank Rizzo. Protestors attempted to remove the statue at the end of May. In June, the city conceded to the protestors and took down the Rizzo statue. Now, Mural Arts Philadelphia has erected a new piece of public art outside the Municipal Services Building honoring this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.
The new temporary mural hangs from the front of the Municipal Services Building. Entitled “Crown,” the mural depicts a collage of Philadelphians with their fists raised in protest. Artist Russell Craig, a former participant in Mural Arts Restorative Justice program for incarcerated artists, based the mural on an 1830 painting by Eugène Delacroix depicting the July Revolution in France.
Mural Arts had planned to install a new piece at the Municipal Services Building this fall, however, the organization pushed up the timeline in order to respond to the events of this summer. The removal of the Rizzo statue, which many saw as a symbol of racist policing and violence against Black people in the city, played an important part in the decision to install the mural sooner. “It was important that this be on a government building near the Rizzo statue. It shows times are changing. This should now be a spot that acknowledges people coming together, and a spot for healing,” Mural Arts CEO Jane Golden said.
Russell Craig plans to expand the mural to the left and ride sides of the Municipal Services Building.