As the shadow of Colin Kaepernick looms over the NFL, it comes as no surprise that in the days leading up to Super Bowl LIII, an iconic mural bearing his likeness is no more.
The mural, which was painted on an abandoned building in Atlanta across from celebrated HBCU Morehouse College, was demolished on Friday just as hundreds of thousands of sports fanatics poured into the city to partake in Super Bowl weekend.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, artist Fabian Williams decided to paint the mural—which depicts the former 49ers quarterback in an Atlanta Falcons jersey—to provide Kaepernick a home. Something the NFL has thus far refused to do.
“I thought Atlanta, because of our civil rights history, would be a perfect place for him,” Williams said.
But if the building was the perfect place for him, why was the mural torn down?
“I just happened to be driving by when they were doing it and it took a minute for me to mentally recognize that it was happening,” Williams said. “Symbols matter man. You destroyed the whole building it was on? If I were an interpreter of performance art, what message would you take from that?”
The story of how he discovered the building is interesting as well.
Williams, who sometimes paints under the name, “Occasional Superstar,” has painted murals and projects all over the city. He was driving through Atlanta one day when he was struck by the space, which is right across the street from the Morehouse College basketball arena and about a mile from Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The wall had been used as a space to promote advertisements for albums, parties and movies. Williams never sought permission to paint on the wall and met the building’s owner once.
“He said he liked it,” Williams said. “But said that the city was complaining to him about it.”
Also of note, the building was ravaged by a fire about six months ago, but the mural remained unharmed. And with the Super Bowl in town, Williams made plans to spend his weekend touching up the mural prior to the game.
“I figured at some point they would tear the building down, but it has been sitting up this whole time,” Williams said. “The fact that the Super Bowl happens here and the weekend when the festivities are gearing up, the building gets demolished is very odd.”
But despite this setback, Williams remains undeterred. Not only has he painted another Kaepernick mural on a wall on Peeples Street, but he recently completely another mural commissioned by Nike entitled “Where Dreams are Made,” located in Midtown on the side of the Westside Cultural Arts Center.