Artists transform Graffiti Alley with new murals in 'show of solidarity' with anti-racism movement
George Floyd, other prominent black figures illustrated in 'Paint the City Black' event
As thousands of protesters marched through downtown Toronto streets in protest of anti-black racism on Saturday, dozens of local artists instead took to Graffiti Alley, filling the one-kilometre stretch with illustrations of prominent black figures in a "show of solidarity" with the movement.
"Communities thrive when people come together," said Jessey Pacho, a Toronto graffiti artist who organized the "call to artists" on Saturday.
Pacho said the event, dubbed "Paint the City Black," was established as a peaceful protest, with the colour black as the main theme running through each individual piece.
Some 40 artists from around Canada participated in "a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement," he told CBC Toronto Saturday.
The alley — which sits tucked between McDougall Lane and Augusta Avenue, near Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue — is a tourist hotspot after its buildings were gradually covered over the years with bright-coloured sketches and paintings.
Now joining those existing murals are illustrations of black figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose death sparked protests across the globe after he was pinned under the knee of a police officer in Minneapolis on May 25.
Demonstrations were held across Canada on Saturday, with many calling for police reform and an end to systemic racism.
You can read about Toronto's peaceful protests here.
Toronto proved again that we can march together in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PeacefulProtest?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PeacefulProtest</a> for anti-Black racism and that we will move forward with change by pulling together, not apart. Your message was powerful. We have the greatest city in the world. Next step: Action! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Toronto?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Toronto</a>—@marksaunderstps
Moises Frank, who also helped organize Saturday's event in Graffiti Alley, said he put out a call to artists on Tuesday and received an overall swift and positive response.
"Next thing we knew we had 40 people, and more people trying to figure out how to give up space and offering to redo their wall," he said Saturday.
"It's a lot of people understanding that now's the time to say something ... We're coming together to say something important."
Saturday's event started with a painting of a black panther, Pacho said, with the words "All Power to the People" in honour of the Black Panther Party — a revolutionary organization known as being a "vanguard" of the civil rights movement.
"[It's] sort of a message that is important to bring in today's day in age with everything happening," Pacho said.
And the organizers say they don't want Paint the City Black to stop at Graffiti Ally.
Quite literally, Frank says he wants "the whole city painted black."
Check out some of the other photos offering a glimpse of the transformed space.
With files from Turgut Yeter