SOHO, Manhattan — An art gallery displaying a “salute” to those killed in the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre was vandalized overnight ahead of the 100th anniversary of the deadly riot, officials confirmed Monday.
Black Wall Street Gallery — which has been operating in SoHo since October — posted a photo to its Instagram page. In the image, the words Black Wall Street Gallery are covered in smeared white paint.
“As far as we’re concerned, smearing white paint on the word ‘Black’ is deliberate and intentional and therefore constitutes hate speech,” the post said, adding that the NYPD informed them the vandalism was not considered to be hate speech.
The NYPD told PIX11 Monday evening that its Hate Crimes Task Force was notified of the incident.
The gallery is located at 26 Mercer Street in SoHo near Grand and Howard streets; the incident happened between 11 p.m. Sunday and 7 a.m. Monday, when the space was closed and unattended.
The Instagram post said no other businesses on Mercer Street were targeted or impacted.
Law enforcement organizations around the U.S. received a bulletin this week from the Department of Homeland Security warning of the potential for targeted violence at the commemoration of the Tulsa massacre, according to a federal law enforcement official.
Thousands of Black Tulsans fled the white mob that leveled their community on May 31-June 1, 1921, in the calamity that came to be known as the Tulsa Race Massacre.
On Monday, Tulsans commemorate the 100th anniversary of the two-day assault by armed white men on Tulsa’s prosperous Black community of Greenwood, known around the country as Black Wall Street, calling attention to an era of deadly mob assaults on Black communities that official history long suppressed.
The wounds lasted much longer than the spring of 1921, though: After a racist mob stripped an almost unknowable amount of wealth from Black Tulsans overnight, desegregation and urban renewal further upended the post-massacre Black business community that was rebuilt. Insurance claims for massacre victims’ losses were denied and their civil lawsuits against the city and state seeking financial relief were tossed out. That timeline left a gaping wound unhealed for a century — and that wound is still open.
Black Tulsa never really recovered from the devastation in Greenwood, where as many as 300 people were killed.