Minneapolis unrest causes spike in graffiti since last summer

Following the death of George Floyd in May 2020, appearances of politically-inspired graffiti have been on the rise.

Graffiti along Lake Street in South Minneapolis. (Wikimedia Commons)

The city of Minneapolis has seen a significant uptick in graffiti since civil unrest broke out in 2020.

In 2020, accounts of graffiti were up 16% and then up another 55% in 2021. April 2021 saw 1,359 instances of graffiti, showing some of the highest numbers for a single month in the past decade.

Following the death of George Floyd in May 2020, appearances of politically-inspired graffiti have been on the rise. “Tagged” names and symbols account for over two-thirds of all markings Minneapolis has reported for 2020, meaning the majority of the graffiti has been the product of experienced artists.

Now, a clear trend of political messages have begun to cover the city. Reactions to the increased graffitiing of Minneapolis have greatly varied.

Minneapolis Public Works is the department responsible for graffiti removal, although for some property owners, receiving aid from Minneapolis Public Works has become difficult to coordinate, and their businesses remain tagged with graffiti, according to Axios. Others, however, see emotional and political significance in the preserved graffiti.

Some artist groups like Memorialize the Movement have taken a particular interest in the graffiti of Minneapolis, specifically art on plywood boards used as riot protection for businesses in 2020. The group works to “preserve the protest art” from last summer.

Memorialize the Movement is now working with the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery to preserve murals, graffiti, and products of the riots to “keep this civil rights movement going through this art,” according to its website.

An exhibition featuring plywood graffiti from 2020 will take place at Phelps Field Park in Minneapolis from May 21-23.