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'Don't Shoot' Mural in Prospect-Lefferts Draws Criticism from Locals

 Street artist CASH4, real name Russell Murphy, painted a mural on Flatbush Avenue and Maple Street this week.
Street artist CASH4, real name Russell Murphy, painted a mural on Flatbush Avenue and Maple Street this week.
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Jenny Ulloa

PROSPECT-LEFFERTS GARDENS — A new anti-violence mural in the neighborhood is stirring up plenty of reactions from residents this week.

The work, displayed on a sneaker shop's rolldown gate at Flatbush Avenue and Maple Street, spells the words “Don’t Shoot” in red, dripping letters. Bedford-Stuyvesant artist Russell Murphy, a.k.a. CASH4, finished the piece on Tuesday with the help of curator Jenny Ulloa, a Prospect-Lefferts Gardens resident. She said passersby gave them a lot of positive feedback as he worked.

“I heard so many stories from people,” she said. “This young guy came up to me and had a scar from a bullet wound… That was just amazing to me.”

But when the paint dried, criticisms flooded into a neighborhood Facebook page and on a local blog, with some commenters calling it “uncreative,” “ugly” and “inappropriate.”

“They don't like the aesthetic of it and the language, and they feel that that is a misrepresentation of the neighborhood,” Ulloa explained.

The message is important for the neighborhood, as well as personal For Ulloa. Her step-cousin was the victim of an accidental shooting in Florida, and another shooting this year outside of a kids birthday party she attended with her son rattled her and her neighbors, she said.

“There’s this issue that I feel like some people want to sweep under the rug,” she said, especially in light of several shootings in the Prospect-Lefferts area recently.

"Hands Up, Don't Shoot" has become a common refrain among demonstrators in recent protests against police shootings. While Ulloa acknowledged the piece was a nod to the phrase, she wanted to open up the conversation to violence in general.

“Of course, this is not the same neighborhood as it was 20 years ago, but [shootings are] still happening," she explained. "And even if it’s happening once a month, that’s one time too many."

The “Don’t Shoot” mural is located at Sneaker Q at 556 Flatbush Ave.

►READ: Street Art Project Featuring City's Immigrants Comes to Prospect-Lefferts Gardens