Apple has given the enormous Black Lives Matter mural covering its downtown store to Portland civil rights organization Don’t Shoot PDX.
The panels “reflect the responses of so many that were witnesses to this summer’s uprisings and the joint call to action against institutionalized violence and white nationalism,” Don’t Shoot PDX wrote in its newsletter this week.
Apple’s downtown Portland location is enclosed on three sides by floor-to-ceiling windows. Like many downtown merchants, the store has been boarded up since June amid nightly civil rights protests that lasted through the summer and sporadic acts of vandalism that continued through the fall.
Portland artist Emma Berger started the mural June 1 on Apple’s black plywood with a painting of George Floyd and the phrase “I can’t breathe.” That was joined soon afterwards by other artists who added images and names of other African Americans killed by police violence.
“Artists in the Portland community reimagined the blank canvas surrounding our Pioneer Place Apple Store and created a monumental art piece honoring the ongoing fight for justice and the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Apple stands in support of the artists and all who are fighting for social and racial justice,” Apple said in a statement Friday.
“We are honored to have hosted the murals and are very happy to entrust the artwork to Don’t Shoot Portland in support of their advocacy for social change,” the company said.
The Portland mural took on historic significance last summer as it became a national symbol of the protests and unrest over police violence.
Apple’s downtown store has been closed since May 31, when Portland’s protests erupted. Many other downtown merchants are closed, too, as the coronavirus pandemic closed offices and pedestrians vacated the downtown core.
Don’t Shoot PDX features an image of the mural on its webpage. The organization, which opposes racism and police violence, did not immediately say how it plans to use the mural or if it anticipates displaying it publicly.
— Mike Rogoway