By Tiffany Chan

STONEHAM (CBS) – A heartfelt mural calling for justice for George Floyd was defaced by spray paint in Stoneham. The artist behind the original image, Esben Rey, told WBZ-TV he was inspired by the country coming together to honor Floyd’s life.

“Essentially I painted it because the times – it just broke my heart to see him murdered that way and it just hurt my heart a lot,” said Rey. “So I thought the best way to positively interpret that was to commemorate him and paint a picture of his face.”

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It appears the vandals covered the image in white paint, even tried to scribble out Floyd’s name before taking off. Passersby walking through the I-93 tunnel in Stoneham say the damage is disheartening.

George Floyd mural in Stoneham before it was defaced (Image credit artist Esben Rey)

“It was definitely a tribute to a man who deserved a tribute and someone defaced it. It’s disappointing,” said Patti Cameron of Reading.

In a time of unrest across the nation, one Peabody woman believes this act of hate was uncalled for.

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“This doesn’t help at all. Nope. It’s dividing everybody,” said Marie Cannatella.

Mural for George Floyd defaced in Stoneham (Image credit artist Esben Rey)

But art is about bringing people together.

Rey said he won’t let someone erase the good message he was trying to spread.

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“I’m bummed that somebody did that,” he said. “I’ll be back and I’ll fix it and hopefully the new one will ride.”

Tiffany Chan