A lighting blast demolished a mural of George Floyd in Toledo, Ohio, on Tuesday, according to the city’s fire department.
The piece had been painted onto the side of a shuttered bar, according to Toledo’s The Blade. The art work crumbled amid a storm shortly after 5 p.m. on Tuesday evening according to police.
The Toledo Fire and Rescue Department officially attributed the destruction to a lightning strike based on witness accounts and an investigation of the scene. City building inspector Hugh Koogan has disputed the report, however, saying the wall had been showing signs of weakness for some time and likely just gave way on its own.
“It was just age. It just came away,” Koogan told the Blade. “It happens to the older buildings.”
Artist David Ross, who painted the mural, says he believes the mural was either destroyed by an act of God or vandalism. Ross said that while painting the mural, he saw the strength of the wall first-hand and said it should’ve remained standing for much longer.
“When I did the mural, there was stuff on the wall that I couldn’t remove and that let me know how strong that structure was,” Mr. Ross said. “The lightning thing, that’s possible, but I know it didn’t just fall.”
— Kaitlin Durbin (@njKaitlinDurbin) July 13, 2021
Floyd was murdered last year while being arrested for reportedly using counterfeit money at a convenience store in Minneapolis. Former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in April and sentenced to 22.5 years in prison. As The Daily Wire reported:
Chauvin was facing up to 40 years after he was convicted in April of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. The former officer has been held in solitary confinement at a state prison since the conviction.
As highlighted by The Washington Post, under typical circumstances, Chauvin should have been facing 11 to 12 years behind bars per state sentencing guidelines for someone with no criminal history. However, Judge [Peter] Cahill ruled last month that “prosecutors had proven there were aggravating factors in the case that called for a tougher sentence.”
Cities and municipalities have erected a slew of statues, murals, and memorials to Floyd since his death ignited a wave of protests and riots across the U.S. Activists and Democratic lawmakers have claimed that Floyd’s death was indicative of systemic police racism and pushed calls to “defund the police” by redirecting funding away from law enforcement into social programs.
Before his death, Floyd was arrested nine previous times, mostly on drug and theft charges, and spent a couple stints in prison. In 2009, Floyd pleaded guilty to armed robbery after he and several other men robbed a home while the family was inside. Floyd’s part in the robbery was outlined in a police officer’s probable-cause statement reported by Snopes:
The largest of these suspects [Floyd] forced his way into the residence, placed a pistol against the complainant’s abdomen, and forced her into the living room area of the residence. This large suspect then proceeded to search the residence while another armed suspect guarded the complainant, who was struck in the head and side areas by this second armed suspect with his pistol after she screamed for help. As the suspects looked through the residence, they demanded to know where the drugs and money were and Complaint Henriquez advised them that there were no such things in the residence. The suspects then took some jewelry along with the complainant’s cell phone before they fled the scene in the black Ford Explorer.