Elgin art mirrors public lynching of two black men in 1930

A piece of art between Spring and Grove streets has been an admired and welcomed addition to downtown Elgin since it went up a few years ago.

- A piece of art between Spring and Grove streets has been an admired and welcomed addition to downtown Elgin since it went up a few years ago. 

Until 24 hours ago, when a Facebook post connected the mural to a shocking photo from 1930 and the public lynching of two black men in Indiana. 

Business owners in Elgin told FOX 32 the mural has been there for four or five years. But it wasn't until a passerby with a keen eye connected it to an infamous photo taken decades ago that sent the city into a frenzy.

“I see it, Oh my God! The reporter is here showing me this, oh my god!” said Elgin resident Tashlyn Johnson.

It’s been a common reaction over the past 24 hours.

“Oh my God, you can see the guy pointing right there. oh wow!” said Elgin resident Gino Nottolini.

But it’s hard to understand what the fuss is all about if you don't know what this mural is missing.

“I live across the street, grew up here. I never knew the whole story to this,” another person said.

You have to go back to august of 1930 and a photo taken at the scene of a public lynching in Marion, Indiana. Hundreds of spectators were there to watch the crime, and that's the part local artist David Powers painted.

“Who gave him permission to do this? When we do stuff like this in the city, who do we go to?” Johnson said.

Kristine Rogowski is the City of Elgin communications director.

“We had not heard about this prior to this time,” she said.

The mayor's spokesperson told FOX 32 that powers worked with university students to create four different artworks that were placed around the city. Not all of them included a description in the contract.

“That's the piece we're missing, is the context as to why this specific part of the picture was chosen to be painted,” Rogowski said.

FOX 32: Have you had any luck getting in touch with the artist?

“Not as of yet,” Rogowski said.

Neither did FOX 32 when we went to Powers home.

So the question still begging to be answered, what is its meaning? And what happens now?

“I never really paid attention and then my friend put that on FB, like I want that down!” Johnson said.

The mayor's office is planning a meeting that will be open to the public within the next two weeks to decide whether the mural should stay or go.

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