Apple began covering George Floyd’s mural at its downtown Portland store on Wednesday, the first step in the company’s plan to preserve and ultimately donate the historic artwork.
“We are going to put a protective layer of plywood over the existing artwork to preserve it for future donation,” Apple said in a statement to The Oregonian / OregonLive on Tuesday. The company said it hopes to announce long-term plans for the mural early next year.
Apple’s downtown window and the windows of many other downtown retailers were boarded up for months after the Black Lives Matter protests that followed George Floyd’s police murder in Minneapolis.
Portland artist Emma Berger started the mural in the boarded-up Apple store on June 1 and was soon complemented by other works of art, becoming a national symbol of the protest movement that consumed the city center last summer.
In September, Berger described the mural as a collaborative effort and said he felt no personal claims about it.
“I am proud of what it has become, but I really do not retain its glory in what I have done, but in what everyone else has helped to become,” Berger told Willamette Week.
The Apple store closed in March at the start of the pandemic, reopened briefly in May and closed again after protests in the city center. The company has not yet set a date to reopen it.
Downtown Portland has struggled with the pandemic, with empty offices and many retailers and restaurants closed. Nightly clashes between protesters and police took place during the early summer, putting Portland in the spotlight during the national uprising over Floyd’s death.
Although protests subsided months ago, the pandemic continues to keep most people away from downtown offices and ships and business leaders have expressed repeated concerns about the state of the downtown area.
– Mike Rogoway