“Please, I can’t breathe.”
George Floyd’s heartbreaking final plea appeared on Monday in paint on the side of a downtown Santa Barbara business. The mural, painted by Griffin Lounsbury and Chad (Chadillac Green) Westmoreland, depicts George Floyd and his last words on the Haley Street wall of EOS Lounge nightclub.
George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on May 25 sparked nationwide outrage and fueled protests and riots across major cities in America that continue today. On Sunday, Santa Barbara held a peaceful protest at the county courthouse attended by more than 3,000 people who then marched along State Street. The next day, the mural went up.
“Projects like this bring people and the community together,” said Bix Kaufman, owner of EOS. “The city would never do anything like this, so we did.”
Kaufman was in discussion with Lounsbury to have public art along the wall, possibly famous deejays who had died, but after the events of the past week, George Floyd took precedence. The public feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, Kaufman said, who has not yet heard from the city.
“We have even had SBPD officers express support,” Kaufman said. “They knew people were going to be upset, and so they sat down the street to protect the artists” and came by occasionally to check on them.
According to Kaufman, the mural is more than just a tribute to Floyd; it is a comment on a systemic equality that is “totally fucked and a government that is worse.” He is thinking about more that Westmoreland, Lounsbury, and he can do.
Lounsbury, a Santa Barbara native, painted the image of Floyd in shades of blue. “We did everything out of pocket,” Lounsbury said. “We just did everything for the love, you know.”
Westmoreland, a tattoo artist at 805 Ink, created the colorful lettering that takes up the majority of the image.
“I wanted to do something bold and powerful in your face,” Westmoreland said. Growing up voicing his opinion through graffiti, Westmoreland has been doing street art for over 20 years. Westmoreland hopes that the mural can stay up as long as possible and that it inspires more like it around town.
Kaufman and Westmoreland have already discussed plans to take the mural down, most likely within two weeks. “We don’t want to make the mayor look bad,” Kaufman said. “We know she’s probably going to have to take it down, so we are just going to do it ourselves.”
Until then Kaufman hopes the public will come out and see the image of Floyd. He will be posting more information regarding the piece on EOS’s official Instagram.