An activist group has placed a billboard of an oil painting depicting George Floyd’s death near one of the entrances to Washington, D.C., blocks away from the Capitol.
The George Floyd Justice Billboard Committee funded the project, which features the artwork of Don Perlis, to be erected along South Capitol Street in the nation’s capital for a month, until late February.
Perlis’s “Floyd” shows an officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck and two others pinning him down while Floyd looks at the viewer. Beside the striking image is a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Corinne Basabe of the committee told NBC Washington in an interview published over the weekend that D.C. “was an ideal spot for the artwork.”
The same billboard has been put up in Atlanta and Los Angeles and originally made an appearance in Times Square last October, according to USA Today.
Perlis, the artist, told The Hill that putting the artwork up in D.C. after other cities felt “like the most natural thing in the world.” He said the painting intends to depict “the exact instance” of Floyd’s death.
“I was shocked by the event like everyone else, just the brutality of it,” he said, adding turning to painting after the reports was “very natural to me.”
Committee member Nan Quick told USA Today that she provided the $16,000 to get the billboard up in the District.
“We need to encourage civilized conversations about how to remedy ingrained behavior that’s completely UN-civilized,” she said in a statement to The Hill. “A single powerful image such as the painting by Don Perlis can sustain this kind of conversation.”
Perlis told USA Today that he completed the painting three weeks after Floyd’s May death while in custody of Minneapolis police officers, even though such a painting usually takes him six months to a year.
The George Floyd Justice Billboard Committee has reportedly also tried to get billboards of the artwork in Minneapolis, where Floyd died, but two advertising companies denied.
Witness video showed former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes before his death. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, while the other three officers present on the scene were charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
Floyd’s death sparked international protests calling for an end to racial injustice and police brutality.