When reports began cropping up on social media on Tuesday that a mural of George Floyd had collapsed, it wasn’t immediately clear what had happened.
The mural was the work of artist David Ross, completed in July 2020 in a neighborhood in north Toledo, Ohio.
Ross, according to WTOL 11, had said “the artwork stands as a memorial and reminder to never forget what happened that day in May of 2020.”
It was painted on an aging brick building at Summit and Lagrange Streets, and initial photos showed the bricks collapsed into a pile at the side of the building. Some commentators suggested the old brick façade had simply toppled from bowing further outward over time.
George Floyd mural in Ohio reduced to rubble after being struck by lightning https://t.co/GxrkgP0j84
— 13 On Your Side (@wzzm13) July 14, 2021
But several local media outlets, including WTOL 11, later confirmed that there was a lightning strike in the immediate vicinity of the building, and eyewitnesses described seeing lightning hit the building.
A witness who saw the wall fall told TFRD they had seen a lightning bolt strike the building. The [Toledo Fire and Rescue] department later confirmed the strike to be the cause of the collapse.
Social media promptly went into overdrive.
If that's not a sign from God I don't know what is… ?
BREAKING: Ohio George Floyd Mural Destroyed After Being Struck By Lightning via https://t.co/fp1Gx3qO9N
— Stefan Antonino ?? ?? (@StefanAntonino) July 14, 2021
El mural de George Floyd, destruido por un rayo.
Una señal divina. https://t.co/sm14S8BjzM
— Visús (@DavidVisus) July 14, 2021
Mural Honoring George Floyd in Toledo, Ohio Destroyed by Lightning Strike https://t.co/CkUV10NiNZ
— RoboHoward (@RoboHoward) July 14, 2021
Coincident? I think not ⚡️⚡️⚡️
Lightening struck a mural of George Floyd right in the face ? I won’t mention any names but someone isn’t happy with George ????⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️https://t.co/Jh41YmKTbW
— MM19RN MSN♥️?????♥️ (@Cleansniper23) July 14, 2021
"Biblical…George Floyd mural in Toledo Ohio takes direct hit to the face by Lightning strike…I have never seen lightning act like this before."
Act of God… https://t.co/uh3wd9WiS7
— AlbaThor⚡ (@biragonal) July 14, 2021
The media will probably claim that Donald Trump incited the 'storming' of the George Floyd mural by lightning thus demonstrating his supposed racism!
— Kenneth Willcocks (@KennethWillcoc1) July 14, 2021
George Floyd is trending. The mural was struck by lightning and collapsed.
This has flushed out a load of right wing racist God-botherers claiming a miracle and that God's "on their side"; I have used this as an excellent opportunity for a block-fest.
— Bee Middlemast-Neal #FBPPR #FBPE #FreePalestine (@Mistywoman1) July 14, 2021
Was the lightning a divine judgment on the memorial? On its iconic standing with the devoted woke? On its quality as an artistic specimen?
We will probably never know. A post-modern Westerner would assume not. But one lesson we can take from the event seems especially applicable at a time when Americans are trying to triumph over each other by vandalizing and knocking down other people’s monuments.
Anyone can tear a monument down. But no one has the absolute power to keep one standing.