Lyra McKee mural at Florida LGBTQ+ centre defaced with swastika

Three murals at the Zebra Youth centre in Orlando were vandalised, including one paying tribute to the late Northern Irish journalist Lyra McKee.

A defaced mural of Lyra McKee, with a black and white image of the journalist painted over a rainbow heart.
Image: Instagram: @Zebra_Youth

A mural paying tribute to murdered Northern Irish journalist Lyra McKee has been defaced with anti-trans graffiti and a swastika. It is one of three artworks to be targeted at the Zebra Youth and LGBT+ Centre in Orlando, Florida, with the organisation sharing the news on its Instagram account.

On the wall where McKee is depicted, the vandal wrote: “Protect lives saves kids’ eyes from trans lies,” also spray painting the notorious Nazi symbol and what appears to be a gun’s crosshairs. On the other murals, trans and rainbow love hearts were defaced with the messages: “one male one female no more no less”, “Gay is not ok” and “stop the lies”.

Commenting on the incident, Zebra Youth stated: “We will not allow the recent vandalism to our building by a hate group to detour or waver us…Zebra Youth stands strong in our dedication to empowering LGBTQ+ youth to become healthy, productive, and self-sufficient individuals. We will never allow hate to win!”

The organisation further added that it is working with Orlando police to identify and prosecute the perpetrator, and thanked authorities for their support.



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A post shared by Kim Murphy (@paintingchangeorlando)

The defaced mural of Lyra McKee, as well as those of the trans and rainbow hearts, have since been restored, with Kim Murphy of Painting Change Orlando leading the repainting efforts.

“And just like that, it’s good as new!! Thanks to the lovely souls who came out to paint this morning. I truly love you!! Orlando Strong! Love wins!!!! PRIDE is every day,” the artist wrote on Instagram alongside several images.



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A post shared by Kim Murphy (@paintingchangeorlando)

Lyra McKee was an openly queer journalist who committed her work life to exploring the consequences of the Troubles, seeking justice for crimes that had been forgotten since the Good Friday Agreement. In 2019, she was tragically shot and killed by an alleged member of the New IRA while observing a group of rioters in Derry.

To date, there have been a total of fifteen arrests made in connection with her case. Three of these people have been charged with murder, and four others have been charged with rioting and associated offences. 

However, the gunman remains at large, a matter of deep concern for the McKee family. Anyone with information is urged to come forward, and the reward currently stands at £20,000.

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