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George Floyd mural destroyed by lightning strike, Toledo Fire and Rescue Department says

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Credit: Shaun Hegarty/Twitter

Kaitlin Durbin

The Blade, Toledo, Ohio

The painted bricks of a Toledo mural honoring George Floyd crumbled Tuesday.

The piece, on the side of the former Mugshots Bar at the corner of Summit and Lagrange streets, reportedly collapsed about 5:17 p.m., Toledo police on scene said.

The cause of the damage is not known.

City building inspector Hugh Koogan said it appeared to be a result of natural deterioration. The city had noticed the middle of the wall, where most of the damage occurred, bowing recently, he said.

“It was just age. It just came away,” Mr. Koogan said. “It happens to the older buildings.”

The Toledo Fire and Rescue Department, however, is listing the cause as a lightning strike, based on witness reports and the scene, spokesman Sterling Rahe said.

That witness told authorities they saw lightning strike the building at the site of the collapse, but Mr. Koogan, who talked to the person, said he found no signs to support that theory. He also dismissed claims that the rainy weather was to blame.

The artist, David Ross, said he is skeptical of the cause.

He painted the mural, titled “Take a Breath,” in the summer of 2020 amid Black Lives Matter protests following the death of Mr. Floyd under the knee of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin was later convicted of murder and sentenced to 22.5 years in prison.

Mr. Ross remembers receiving threats and criticism at the time. It makes him wonder now if someone vandalized the mural.

“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.”

Either way, he’s planning to resurrect the mural at a new location.

“I’m not upset because I know I’m going to do it again, whether it was natural or vandalism,” he said.

The property owner declined to comment but was working with a contractor to secure the site. He was seen tossing bricks into a pile to clear the sidewalk.

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