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Anti-Censorship Message Appears on Inwood Mural NYPD Painted Over

By Jess Wisloski | August 4, 2012 3:53pm

INWOOD — Less than two weeks after police officers blocked a neighborhood mural from view by covering it with a thick layer of black paint, a sly message appeared on the blank canvas of an Inwood wall.

"Can't censor the people!!!" is now scrawled in white paint across the brick facade of New Edition Cleaners at 4929 Broadway, where on July 24, a brigade of plainclothes police officers armed with rollers and dropcloths proceeded to thoroughly coat a five-day-old mural by Alan Ket.

On Twitter, the story of the paint-over continued to be shared, and locals discussed the ongoing battle. "Why I love my neighborhood today," wrote Zaida Grunes, who posted an image on her feed @zaidagrunes.

Tweeter @LolitaPop9 shared an image of an effort to get signatures on a petition protesting the 34th Precinct's actions, from her local farmers market.

Ket's piece, which had been titled "Murderers," featured the word painted above a graveyard, and skewered large organizations by putting their names on gravestones. Among the groups attacked: Shell Oil, the NYPD,  Bank of America, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, oil producing giant Halliburton, and Monsanto, the world's largest producer of seeds and herbicides (often criticized for propagating and contaminating crops with genetically modified hormones and seeds).

Ket had painted the mural with the permission of New World Cleaners, who were later told by police that the message was a "bad idea," and that it had to come down.

Three days after the paint-over, Ket said the landlord told him he'd have to get the NYPD's permission before painting any more public-facing murals.

Ket has been meeting with the New York Civil Liberties Union in response to the NYPD's actions.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly later said the mural had come down at the request of community leaders.