A New York City artist has paid homage to Breonna Taylor in a new mural, which was unveiled over the weekend during a festival in Hudson Valley, New York. Artist Danielle Mastrion crafted a mural over the weekend at the annual Hudson Sankofa Black Arts & Cultural Festival, which featured the face of Taylor, Harriet Tubman and Gianna Floyd, the daughter of George Floyd.
Mastrion said the mural is supposed to represent the “past, present and future,” which is part of the meaning of “Sankofa,” an Akan tribe in Ghana, which the festival is named after. The mural also features the symbol of Sankofa.
Mastrion told Inside Edition Digital that this year’s festival “could not happen” in the way it usually does due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the organizers and student program Operation Unite believed that the Black Lives Matter movement should be the center piece of the attention.
By doing a mural of Taylor, Mastrion said, ensures “she will not be forgotten about.”
“Breonna’s name was at the top of the list and Breonna’s story and how it happened and how her killers have not been brought to justice," she said.
She also wanted to tie in the themes of “Sankofa,” which is examining the past, present and future. Mastrion took into consideration the history of Hudson Valley, specifically that it was one of the final stops of the Underground Railroad, of which Tubman played a huge role. Mastrion also linked both women to Floyd’s death by including his daughter, Gianna.
"Looking at the future and the statement his daughter made, ‘My daddy changed the world,’” resonated with her, she said.
“I wanted it to be meaningful and not capitalize on something in the news for two weeks,” she continued. “I was waiting for the right time and the right place. I didn’t want it to be a random mural.”
She said she was encouraged by curator JD Urban from the festival and Elana and Greg Mosley of Project Unite.
“This extraordinary work was commissioned by Operation Unite New York," Urban said in a statement to Inside Edition Digital of Mastrion’s work. "The Youth in Action members of Operation Unite discussed historic black figures and the icons of today’s Black Lives Matter movement, who are influencing their lives today."
The mural shows Gianna Floyd being “birthed” from the movements of the women before her, Mastrion said.
“Seeing her get birth from these women in history and represents one whole message of racism in this country and all this time we are all seeing the same thing,” she said.
The mural is framed by black lilies and gladiolus flowers, which represent strength.
“As a representational artist, I feel it is my job and duty to say something and leave a mark in time,” she said. “When I put up my work on the street I have to be careful to the block and community. I walk away but these people need to see this everyday.”
In documentation previously obtained by the Louisville Courier-Journal, police were authorized to carry out a “no-knock” warrant on Taylor’s Louisville, Kentucky, home on March 13 as part of a narcotics investigation on a home 10 miles away. Neither Taylor nor her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were the investigation's target. Police had suspected, though, that Taylor’s home was used to receive drugs.
Authorities initially said they identified themselves, despite the “no-knock” warrant. Police said the officers were “immediately” met by gunfire when they entered Taylor and Walker's home, at which point they returned fire.
Walker called 911 during the ordeal and he was informed he'd shot an officer. He was initially charged with attempted murder, but his charges were later dropped after he said he shot in self-defense thinking he and Taylor were victims of a home invasion.
In the wake of Taylor's death, the city has banned "no-knock" warrants.
In June, Officer Brett Hankison was fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department; he is currently contesting his termination with legal council. Officer Myles Cosgrove and John Mattingly have been reassigned. None of the officers have been arrested or charged in Taylor’s death.