Walls for Justice: Local artist, community volunteers hopes to spread positive message through artwork

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- After seeing all of the boarded-up businesses in the city, one local artist has made it his mission to not only beautify but spread a positive message.

With brushes in a hand, this group of volunteers hasn't just gathered to paint another mural in the City of Brotherly Love.

They are Walls for Justice, the brainchild of local artist Samuel Rodriquez who founded the group a week after the civil unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd.

"Honestly we saw a need, the closer we got to the city" said Rodriquez. "We started in South Philadelphia, but the closer we got to Center City we saw the boards."

Initially, businesses that boarded up in the city passed on the idea of gaveling their boards paired up.

But eventually, Rodriquez says they got a yes and one business led to another, and another.

"Right now, we have about ten storefronts that we beautified," said Rodriguez. "And every storefront has more than one panel so we have over twenty pieces of artwork."

Saturday, Rodriquez and his small army of community volunteers congregated at 8th and Locust Street, to paint at medical marijuana dispensary Ethos.

Ethos was one of the businesses recently looted in the city.

"Art is the catalyst for change, It's connecting the missing link," said Rodriguez. "Because there was no tension every time we were out here painting."

The hope is to create a lasting impact even once the boards come down. The group does all of the work for free, though they do accept donations.

They are also in talks to start working on creating more permanent art fixtures around the city.
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