NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A rally was held Thursday afternoon in support of a Black-owned art gallery in SoHo that has been vandalized three times in the last week.
The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is now investigating, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported.READ MORE: New York's COVID State Of Emergency Set To Expire Thursday
The owner of the Black Wall Street Gallery wants to see more security and more of a police presence. In the latest incident, vandals drew a symbol of what appears to be an outline of a person or skeleton and below it the words, “ETC REAL ART.”
“I don’t know what ‘et cetera real art’ means. It is very real it comes from a very real place. We’re coming against trauma. We’re coming against white supremacy,” artist Amani Lewis said.
Lewis’ artwork is featured in a new exhibit called “21 Piece Salute,” which features 21 Black artists from around the world.
She came to see it Thursday, but when she showed up she saw it was targeted by graffiti.
The first incident was discovered Monday morning by the gallery owner, Dr. Ricco Wright, on the anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. White paint was smeared on the words “Black Wall Street Gallery.”
“Neither shocked nor surprised that merely three days after opening on 26 Mercer St., in celebration of our ancestors, that we would find a literal white washing of Black Wall Street on our front window,” Wright said.
And that’s not all. A second incident Tuesday featured the letters “ED,” “HR,” and “LL” scrawled on the window.
Then on Wednesday night, the words “ETC REAL ART” and an unknown stick figure appeared, drawn in black marker.READ MORE: Conservation Work Done On Gay Liberation Monument In Christopher Park
“It’s so cryptic, nobody knows,’ Wright said.
A rally was held in support of the gallery and was attended by elected officials, community leaders and artists, including an impassioned plea from actor Michael K. Williams, best known for the role of “Omar Little” on the HBO series “The Wire.”
“We do not stand for this. We do not stand for hate. New York City is the city of love,” Williams said.
WATCH: Police Seek Suspect Accused Of Vandalizing Black Wall Street Gallery —
The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is on the case. It’s unclear if one person or several are responsible.
No other businesses on the street have been targeted.
“It’s shocking. Why would somebody do that?” one area resident said.
“Seeing racism to this degree in 2021 is just so foreign to me,” Olivia Santilli said.
The gallery owner said he has decided to leave these acts of vandalism on the glass to remind the community that hate still exists.MORE NEWS: 'Diaphragm Law' Banning NYPD Officers From Applying Pressure To Suspect's Torso Struck Down
The art will be on display through Juneteenth — the observance of the end of slavery, June 19.