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Renton mural successfully completed after artists threatened at gunpoint by passerby

Jordan Somers The City of Renton commissioned the mural earlier this year to strengthen community ties after residents surveyed felt they had little connection to their neighborhoods. 
Jordan Somers The mural, originally intended to be a one-month project, was pushed back to two months after facing harassment from several passersby.  Among them, Brandon Whiteside, who tagged the mural and pointed a gun at the artists, was later arrested and charged with felony harassment and criminal mischief.  His bail is currently set for $150,000.
Jordan Somers Various parts of the mural had to be redone, including this portion of a person watering flowers, due to the wall being tagged with the words, “boo,“ “lam,” and “Trump” in red graffiti.  The tagging was linked to the same man, Brandon Whiteside, who shouted statements from his vehicle, including “All lives matter” and “God bless Trump.”  Whiteside returned just days after the graffiti was discovered, this time brandishing a pistol and pointing it at the artists from his car.
Jordan Somers Artist @wakudastudios poses in front of the nearly completed Renton mural.  A police car was commissioned by the city to offer protection for the artists, who were subjected to harassment from passing cars and threatened at gunpoint a week prior.
Jordan Somers Reinforced, makeshift ballistic shields were used in a rental truck to serve as a shield for artists while they were working on the busy Renton street.  Artist @mari.shibuya felt that they were in part subjected to harassment due to the color of their skin, since all contributing artists were persons of color.
Jordan Somers The artists involved used a variety of colors to accentuate the vibrancy of the mural and its overall impact on passersby.  The painted woman is intended to mirror a longtime resident who lives across the street, who is known in the neighborhood as “Granny.”
Jordan Somers The artists wanted this mural to represent an underlying theme of unity, as depicted in the various interactions taking place in the finished piece.
Jordan Somers Artist @mari.shibuya poses in front of a rental truck that served primarily as a wall of defense for the artists, who were threatened at gunpoint just a week prior.
Jordan Somers The left side of the mural depicts children playing and a colorful garden being tended to.
Jordan Somers The right hand of the mural emphasizes the importance of knowledge and connection within our communities.  The painted man in the red hat is intended to mirror Brandon Whiteside, the man who pointed the gun toward Mari and her colleagues, suggesting that he too deserves to be involved in the community and not feel excluded, despite his beliefs and recent actions toward the artists. 
Jordan Somers Artist @puanova uses an aerial platform to access the out of reach areas of the mural.
Jordan Somers Artist @wakudastudio lends his support to contributing artists on the mural’s completion day.
Jordan Somers Artist @mari.shibuya swiftly exits the aerial platform to tend to another part of the mural.
Jordan Somers Artist @mari.shibuya dedicated a space of the mural to the dog who lives atop the 200-foot cement wall.
Jordan Somers Artists @mari.shibuya, @puanova and @thecurlynugget pose in front of the first half portion of the mural.
Jordan Somers Artist @mari.shibuya takes a moment to wave to the camera amid an all-day painting session with her team.
Jordan Somers | The Seattle Collegian Artist @puanova paints a top portion of the Renton mural.
Jordan Somers Artists and collaborators hard at work wrapping up the mural on their anticipated final day of completion.
Jordan Somers Artists @mari.shibuya, @puanova and @thecurlynugget and collaborators take a moment to pose for the camera after wrapping up for the day.


Jordan Somers

Jordan Somers is currently in his second year of Visual Media at Seattle Central College. He specializes in photojournalism and documentary work, with a particular emphasis on social movements happening throughout the city. His 2020 documentary, Hope is Not Cancelled, was an official selection at the Local Sightings Film Festival, and won an award for best editing at the Oregon Documentary Film Festival. Jordan is an avid traveler when granted the opportunity, and has a keen interest in psychology and existential philosophy.

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