Artist LaToya Delaire works on a painting of a heart she painted on top of a swastika found Sunday morning on the Black Lives Matter mural on Trinity Street in Hartford, June 11, 2023. “When I got here and saw exactly where it was, I just started painting over it ‘cause I knew exactly what was going in that spot and that was a heart,” Delaire said. Organizer Sacha Kelly said: “We’re flipping it to the positive.” Mark Mirko / Connecticut Public

The Black Lives Matter mural on Trinity Street in Hartford has been restored after it was defaced with hateful symbols and language this weekend.

At a Tuesday press conference to celebrate the mural’s repainting and mark the city’s upcoming Juneteenth celebrations, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the refurbished mural sends a message.

“We open this renewed mural and we prepare to celebrate Juneteenth with our commitment to the beautiful diversity of this city as strong and stronger than it’s ever been in the face of the evil defacement of this mural this past weekend,” he said. “The people who came out to deface this mural were trying to make people afraid, to divide us — and all they did was make our city stronger and more united.”

Gov. Ned Lamont reassured residents that the state is doing everything it can to monitor and crack down on hate groups and hateful rhetoric.

“Juneteenth is a reminder that every day you wake up and you fight for your freedoms,” he said.

Natalie Langlaise, an artist who helped to restore the mural and a former vice-president of Black Lives Matter 860, said her heart dropped when she first saw the swastika image on the mural, especially because it was on a section of the mural that a close friend of hers worked on.

“It was a tough moment to overcome,” she said. “That just gave us more encouragement to put the messages out there that we are passionate about and that we would like other people to show care and concern about.”

Langlaise noted the poignancy of the repainting, done just before the city’s Juneteenth celebrations.

“I think the message is really beautiful coming from Hartford,” she expressed. “It shows continuity of that energy. That we all got to continue working together to improve things for the poorer communities, the more disenfranchised population — it’s definitely a message of hope and that the work is not done.”

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said she was “shocked and devastated” after learning about the incident and condemned the act.

“Hatred, racism, sexism, homophobia, antisemitism has no home here in Connecticut,” she said. “It is not acceptable. We won’t tolerate that. We want to make our state a place for everybody.” 

Bysiewicz said she is looking forward to a nice turnout Sunday as residents celebrate the city’s diversity while remembering the sacrifices it took to achieve freedom and the collective struggle to achieve “ a more perfect state.”

Bronin said the investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Donato Davis is CT Mirror's 2023 Emma Bowen Summer Intern. He is a rising junior at the University of Connecticut. Before coming to CT Mirror he participated in a summer sports writing internship with BVM Sports, an online sports magazine based in Wisconsin where he interviewed and wrote articles about local athletes, teams, and coaches within Connecticut. He is also a news reporter at UCTV, UCONN's television news broadcast station.