Just days before Atlanta hosted Super Bowl LIII, artwork depicting Colin Kaepernick was hurriedly taken down. An artist’s mural depicting the quarterback, who has not been in the league since 2016, was destroyed as the building it was put on got torn down less than a week before the Georgia capital hosted the biggest football game of the season.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the mural was put up two years ago and imagined that Kaepernick would join the Atlanta Falcons to play quarterback.
Artist Fabian Williams, who painted the mural of Kaepernick standing next to Muhammad Ali on the side of an abandoned building on the corner of Fair Street and Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard, said the building was torn down this week.
“I just happened to be driving by when they were doing it and it took a minute for me to mentally recognize that it was happening,” Williams said. “Symbols matter man. You destroyed the whole building it was on? If I were an interpreter of performance art, what message would you take from that?”
Pictures of the demolished building surfaced on social media on Friday, and some people suspected the timing of the building’s demolition was curious at best.
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The first day of @atlsuperbowl53 weekend and the #kaeplanta (1st potrait of @kaepernick7), #WakandaAli (portrait of Muhammad Ali as T'challa) mural and building it was on are completely demolished as of this morning. I found out as I'm going to do an interview with @npr about another mural on Fair St at @marddys down the block. Think about that. The way they kick off the celebration if the @NFL most watched event, they tear down the building with their most talked about professional athlete without a job, Colin Kaepernick. What did he kneel for? Inequality. Human rights. That's the symbol that they just demolished during their celebration. Timing is important and it's a message. #Atlanta #civilrights #kaepernick #BlackPanther #tchallaAli
The AJC could not get in touch with the owner of the building. It reported that Kaepernick knew about the mural, which was about a mile from Mercedes Benz Stadium.
“He said he liked it,” Williams said. “But said that the city was complaining to him about it.”
The owner of the building could not be reached.
About six months ago, a fire ravaged the building, but the wall remained intact. Williams had planned on spending all day Saturday touching up the mural in time for the Super Bowl.
“I figured at some point they would tear the building down, but it has been sitting up this whole time,” Williams said. “The fact that the Super Bowl happens here and the weekend when the festivities are gearing up, the building gets demolished is very odd.”
Kaepernick has been blackballed by the NFL since he started a nonviolent protest targeting police brutality against people of color during the 2016 season and has been unable to find a job in the NFL since his contract with the San Francisco 49ers ended. Many have used the platform of the Super Bowl as a way to show support for Kaepernick, criticizing acts like Maroon 5 for participating in the Super Bowl halftime show while Kaepernick is pursuing an active collusion case against the league. Meanwhile, Kaepernick has thanked those who have work apparel supporting him in the days leading up to the showdown between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.