Walls for Justice: Local artist and community volunteers hope to spread positive message through artwork

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — After seeing every business in the city shut down, a local artist has made it his mission to not only beautify but to spread a positive message.

With paintbrushes in hand, this group of volunteers didn’t just come together to paint another mural in the City of Brotherly Love.

It’s 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 town,” Rodriquez said. “We started in South Philadelphia, but the closer we got to downtown, the more boards we saw.”

Initially, the businesses that were settling in the city had the idea of ​​selling their boards in pairs.

But ultimately, Rodriquez says they got a yes and one company led to another, and then another.

“Right now we have about 10 storefronts that we’ve beautified,” Rodriguez said. “And each showcase has more than one panel, so we have over twenty works of art.”

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

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

“Art is the catalyst for change, it connects the missing link,” Rodriguez said. “Because there was no tension every time we painted here.”

The hope is to create a lasting impact even after the boards are down. The group does all the work for free, although it accepts donations.

They are also in talks to begin work on creating more permanent art installations in the city.

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