MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – A piece of artwork removed from an exhibition on Miami Beach is creating controversy.
Over Memorial Day Weekend, Miami Beach’s city manager requested that a picture memorializing 22-year-old Raymond Herisse should be taken down from a venue on Lincoln Road.
Herisse was shot and killed in a confrontation with Miami Beach Police on Memorial Day 2011, at the end of Urban Beach Week.
Police said he was driving recklessly and running into vehicles.
Over 100 shots were fired at his car and Herisse was hit a dozen times.
The police officers weren’t charged.
Rodney Jackson, who created the artwork, said he was confused why the picture was removed.
“I was baffled that an image meant to memorialize someone could be offensive to someone else” Jackson said.
The City of Miami Beach released a statement that read, “The purpose of the ‘ReFrame Exhibit’ was to create an opportunity for inclusiveness and mutual exchange. The panel did not achieve the objective.”
Miami filmmaker Alfred Spellman took to Twitter, calling the removal ‘censorship.’
The National Coalition Against Censorship said removing the artwork “will likely cast a chilling effect on the city’s future collaborations with black artists.”
Miami artist Addonis Parker, whose work focuses on social commentary, said Jackson’s picture should be revived and permanently placed on Collins Avenue where Herisse died.
“To me it was closure. We know the family was compensated, but it was a chance to memorialize him,” Parker said.
Jackson agreed a permanent marker would be appropriate.
“I think it will be a step in the right direction if inclusion is the aim here,” said Jackson.
ReFrame Miami Beach, the group that organized the exhibition, released this statement:
“On Saturday, May 26, The City of Miami Beach told [artwork curator Octavia] Yearwood that we needed to remove the memorial of Raymond Herisse at the behest of the Miami Beach Police, due their being offended by the memorial, or the entire exhibition ‘I See You, Too’ would be shut down. We requested a conversation with the offended parties. Our request for a conversation was not accepted and another demand for removal was articulated. The installation was removed under threat of consequences that would have further limited our expression. We stand by our artists and their first amendment rights. When The City underwrote the exhibition, they approved of the curatorial direction and did not ask for curatorial review. This incident was an act of art censorship, and while we as curators removed the artwork, it was removed under duress.We are currently speaking with our creative team, reaching out the family of Mr. Herisse, and advisors to determine the best next steps. We thank the many artists and leaders who have reached out with their support and who stand against art censorship.”