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Love trumps hate: Locals cover racist graffiti on Black soccer star's mural with messages of love

Rashford was sent racist messages on social media after he missed a penalty in the final of the Euros.

Love trumps hate: Locals cover racist graffiti on Black soccer star's mural with messages of love
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 13: People look at the newly repaired mural of England footballer Marcus Rashford by the artist known as AKSE_P19 (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Soccer star Marcus Rashford's mural in Manchester was defaced by racists after he missed a penalty in England's Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy. Members of the community stood up for their local hero and covered the hate-filled graffiti with messages of love. Fans posted messages and hearts on the wall to show their support for the 23-year-old soccer star. Despite the strong rivalry between clubs, Rashford is incredibly loved by all soccer fans due to his efforts to feed the underprivileged during the initial lockdown of the pandemic. The mural of the 23-year-old was dedicated to the player because of his efforts to feed children from underprivileged backgrounds. The wall on the side of a cafe in Copson Street, Withington, was defaced shortly after the match with abusive words and drawings.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 13: A young girl leaves flowers at the newly repaired mural of England footballer Marcus Rashford by the artist known as AKSE_P19, which is displayed on the wall of a cafe on Copson Street, Withington, after AKSE_P19 came to repair today it after it was defaced by vandals in the aftermath of England's Euros loss on July 13, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)


The residents of Manchester posted notes labeling Rashford a hero, with other notes reading: 'My Prime Minister.' 'You make great choices' 'Kindest person in the world' 'You make Manchester proud.' One moving note read, "You stood up for us, and now it's time for us to step up for you." Within hours, the messages of hate were fully covered up with messages of love. The wall was filled with notes and flowers. Street artist Akse P19 who did the mural repainted the damaged sections but the kind messages remained on the wall. 



Rashford apologized for missing the penalty but made it clear where stood on hate. "I've grown into a sport where I expect to read things written about myself. Whether it be the color of my skin, where I grew up, or, most recently, how I decide to spend my time off the pitch I can take critique of my performance all day long, my penalty was not good enough, it should have gone in but I will never apologize for who I am and where I came from," said Rashford. "The messages I've received today have been positively overwhelming and seeing the response on Withington had me on the verge of tears," he added, referring to the messages posted on the defaced mural.


Ed Wellard, the founder Withington Walls, the community street art project behind the mural was shocked by the graffiti. "To come out and see what had been written, it was repugnant, it was horrible. I wanted it covered before the kids went to school. No one should be seeing that. We've got politicians that are trying to divide us, we need to come together," he said, reported Sky Sports. After Boris Johnson's government decided to not extend free school meals to children from low-income families during school holidays, Rashford started a campaign that eventually forced the government into a u-turn. “These children are the future of this country. They are not just another statistic. And for as long as they don't have a voice, they will have mine. You have my word on that,” said Rashford at the time.



The soccer players in England have been taking a knee to bring attention to racism. The government has been very critical of them for taking the knee with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel backing football fan's right to boo players for kneeling. “I just don't support people participating in that type of gesture politics,” Patel said. When government officials made a u-turn, showing support for footballers who were racially abused, many weren't having it. Tyrone Mings, England's defender called out Priti Patel, tweeting: "You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labeling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ and then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens." 



Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho, the three players who missed penalties for England, all faced a barrage of racist abuse on Twitter and Instagram after the game. Local communities are now rallying around the players to drown out the hate. "The communities that always wrapped their arms around me continue to hold me up. I'm Marcus Rashford, [a] 23-year-old black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else, I have that," he concluded. 


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