Brooklyn artist and life-long resident of Canarsie Kenny Altidor, 42, spends his afternoons finishing a second mural on East 80th Street and Flatlands Avenue on the side of a building that he says represents peace and love.
One mural is a finished: George Floyd, emblazoned on the top with “Black lives Matter.” He wants to remove the “black” and say “all.” He wants there to be no racial divide in his message of “peace and love.”
The second mural is of rapper Pop Smoke, a known Crips gang member who was murdered in his California home in February. The death of the rapper has been a source of violence throughout Brooklyn especially after five people were arrested three weeks ago reportedly from a rival gang.
Altidor said people in the community asked him to do the mural of Pop Smoke, already sketched eight feet high, one of the many “fallen heroes” that he has painted. He painted slain Police Officers Brian Mulkeen, Detective Brian Simonsen, Brian Moore, and after his death and Firefighter Steven Pollard who fell from a Belt Parkway Bridge while helping at a crash. He makes no distinction on cops, firefighters or rappers – heroes all.
And as he has done for other heroes, he is painting this one for free, with donated paints from supporters.
So now he is painting Pop Smoke and he wants his message to be of peace, not the violence that has plagued the community as many people have been shot, some fatally.
“People here asked me to paint his mural – they loved the guy and so I’m just giving back to the community,” Altidor said. “My message in painting and paying tribute to him is a message of peace, love and unit among African Americans. His song, music – everyone loves his songs and so we want to honor him, but at the same time, the message needs to be you don’t have to commit violence or advance something on his behalf. I don’t think that’s what his mom or family would want.”
Altidor bemoans the gang war and says Pop Smoke should unite African Americans, not cause them to fight.
“It should matter if you are Crips or Bloods, this should be a peaceful community,” said Altidor who lives nearby with his wife Mildred and two children Milken, 9 and Milkaylah, 7. “We shouldn’t be hurting each other.”