MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (FOX19) - Middletown Black Lives Matter held a celebration of Elijah McClain’s life on Sunday with music, candles, and the unveiling of his painting.
McClain’s portrait was added to a downtown mural that BLM organizer Darren Davis Jr. says, “symbolizes all the unjust killings of innocent Black lives.”
It gives people the opportunity, Davis said, to see the names of George Floyd, McClain, and Breanna Taylor and reflect on how their lives ended.
“If you never got to meet them personally, you can come out here and you can talk to them,” Davis said. “You can kind of feel what they kind of felt. You can insert yourself in their situation.”
The group wanted to add McClain to the mural with a violin to celebrate his life, Davis said.
Ashli Szymanski, the lead artist behind these pieces, says that although Middletown has not seen police brutality, it is still a persistent and consistent problem.
She says she wanted to display the issue of police brutality through a painting of Emmett Till.
“And I wanted it to show that not a lot has changed,” Szymanski said. “We have the vibrant colors and we have Emmett Till in black and white to show it’s still going.”
As the anniversary of McClain’s Aug. 24th death approaches, the organizers said their reason for painting these portraits will only continue until people of color stop dying at the hands of police.