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Clear Channel cancels billboard art depicting Floyd’s death

December 11, 2020 GMT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Clear Channel Outdoor has canceled a billboard order for downtown Minneapolis that featured an artist’s painting of George Floyd being restrained by three police officers, the artist said Thursday.

Brooklyn-based artist Don Perlis said he got an email Thursday from Clear Channel account executive Beau Ryan saying the billboard image was rejected because it “depicts acts of violence.” The depiction of Perlis’ oil-on-canvas painting entitled “Floyd” was also on a billboard in New York’s Times Square for most of November, the Star Tribune reported.

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Messages left with Clear Channel Outdoor were not immediately returned to the Star Tribune or The Associated Press.

The art was sponsored by the George Floyd Justice Billboard Committee, a group of New York-based artists who raised funds online for billboards nationwide. Identical billboards are scheduled for Atlanta and Los Angeles next month.

Corinne Basabe, billboard committee chairwoman, said art is important in social justice movements.

“I think it’s important that we still remember the horror of what happened to him that sparked a movement internationally,” Basabe said. “It’s also a work of art. It’s telling the truth.”

Perlis’ painting shows Floyd on the ground, restrained by three officers as a fourth looks away. The Minneapolis billboard was scheduled to go up Jan. 11, and was to feature a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. that said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Perlis said he was surprised by the cancellation, and found it odd that his art was censored after the video of Floyd being pinned to the ground and gasping for air in the moments before he died has been broadcast worldwide.

“The painting is sad, but it’s not violent really. You’d have to know what’s happening,” Perlis said.

Basabe said the billboard committee won’t give up and is exploring its possibilities.