When Shaki’ra Wilson-Burroughs learned that a West Philadelphia mural of her brother, slain Philadelphia Police Sgt. Robert Wilson III, was vandalized Sunday, she said she was shocked and angered by the “senseless” act.
“It just reflects everything that’s going on,” Wilson-Burroughs said. “It doesn’t help, and it doesn’t change anything. It just adds more of a divide.”
The mural, on Baltimore Avenue near 60th Street, was spray-painted early Sunday morning with the anarchist symbol and the anti-police acronyms “ACAB” (”all cops are bastards”) and “FTP” (”f— the police”). The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 is offering a $10,000 reward for information about the vandalism that leads to an arrest.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw took to Twitter on Sunday afternoon to denounce the mural’s defacement, writing: “To the coward who did this: You didn’t earn any extra ’woke-points.’ You’re not brave. You’re not a revolutionary. You’re certainly no hero. And despite all of your failings, heroes like Rob will still answer your calls for help.”
In an additional statement, Outlaw said: “This is abhorrent. While some people out there might find this type of anti-police sentiment cute or trendy, heroes like Sgt. Wilson are the ones who put their lives on the line for complete strangers. Don’t forget — we are the first ones to quell seemingly all social ills in the world. Thank God for those brave enough to answer the call — heroes like Rob — who stand to protect even the individuals who partake in cowardly acts like this.”
Wilson, a 30-year-old father of two and an eight-year veteran of the force, was shot and killed when he interrupted a robbery at a North Philly GameStop on March 5, 2015. Wilson, who was credited with drawing the robbers’ attention away from staff and customers at the store, was posthumously awarded the National Medal of Valor by President Barack Obama the following year.
Wilson-Burroughs, 37, doesn’t believe that it was anybody who lives near the mural, or anybody who knows her brother’s story, who defaced it.
“We wouldn’t think it’s anybody in the neighborhood where it is, but at the same time just Google his name and find out who he was,” she said. “The type of person he was is magnified even more so by the sacrifice he made.”
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 said city crews would be on site to clean up the mural at 7 a.m. Monday, but during a live broadcast from the mural at 5 p.m. Sunday, 6ABC reporter Annie McCormick said the artist who painted the mural, David McShane, was already on site cleaning up the damage.
Mural Arts Philadelphia said on Twitter that it condemned the “defacement of public art and Sgt. Wilson’s legacy, which deserves the utmost respect.”
In a statement, FOP Lodge 5 President John McNesby said: “I’m saddened and angered that vandals would deface the mural of one of our beloved heroes, Sgt. Robert Wilson III. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Wilson family on this sad day. Wilson served our great city with passion and compassion and is sorely missed by his friends and colleagues in the Philadelphia police department.”
This is not the first time a mural of Wilson has been vandalized.
Last June, a different mural of Wilson — this one on Ridge Avenue near 29th Street in Strawberry Mansion — was spray-painted with red graffiti. A $32,500 reward from FOP Lodge 5, city residents, and other labor unions was offered for information leading to an arrest in that case.
A police spokesman said the 2019 vandalism case remains open.