Lightning Strike? Ohio Police and City Inspector Have Conflicting Takes on Just What Happened to a George Floyd Mural That Collapsed

Plans reportedly are in motion to replace a large mural in Toledo, Ohio, honoring George Floyd after the mural collapsed on Tuesday, July 13. A GoFundMe has been set up with a goal of $5,000. Following the collapse, there were several conflicting reports on what actually caused the damage.

The mural reportedly was painted on the side of a vacant building. Toledo police claim it was destroyed by a lightning strike, which was confirmed to have happened in that area around 4:30 that afternoon.  However, Hug Koogan, a city building inspector, told the Toledo Blade that the collapse resulted from natural deterioration and that he had noticed the middle of the wall bowing recently. “It was just age. It just came away,” said the inspector.” It happens to the older buildings.” A spokesperson for the city told CNN that the building was still structurally sound. 

George Floyd mural crumbles. (Credit: WTOL Screengrab)

The tribute, titled “Take a Breath,” was done in July 2020 by artist David Ross, a month after Floyd’s death, and was painted on the side of a building at Summit and Lagrange. Ross told The Blade that when he did the mural, “there was stuff on the wall that I couldn’t remove and that let me know how strong that structure was.” He added, “The lightning thing, that’s possible, but I know it didn’t just fall.”

As previously reported, George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died in May 2020 after former white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as he and two other officers pinned him down during an arrest over an alleged counterfeit $20 bill. In April 2021, a jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. On Friday, June 25, he was sentenced to 22.5 years in Minnesota Correctional Facility at Oak Park Heights.

As for the mural, the day following the collapse, there were no cleanup efforts as personnel tried to determine whether the entire building needed to be demolished. Shortly afterward, a spokesperson for the city said that building officials had determined that an emergency demolition was required at the time.

Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said in a statement on that officials have plans to replace the mural. He added, “We will work with the Arts Commission and the artist to make sure that a new mural can replace the old, so that the message at the core of this artwork can be heard.” Ross will also be involved in creating the new mural at a different location. He told the outlet that he’s not upset over what happened, “because I know I’m going to do it again, whether it was natural or vandalism.”

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