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One of the mural's characters, painted by Mexican muralists, brandished a tattoo with the acronym ACAB (“All cops are bastards”) across her bicep.
The Mexican muralist group, Tlacolulokos, were forced to alter their French fresco ahead of the much-anticipated Lille3000-Eldorado cultural event, due to pressure from the police union criticizing the anti-police aspects hidden in the painting.
The colorful mural depicts two women and one man in traditional Mexican clothing against a lush blue background. White tattoos cover the arms of the trio, such as an AK-47 and a spider's web. Across the bicep of the third character was the acronym: ACAB, which symbolized the slogan, “All cops are bastards” and resembled a police armband.
Members of the Alliance Police Union were enraged after the final unveiling was revealed just days before the Lille3000-Eldorado is set to take place. Many union supporters called for the anti-establishment arm-band to be removed.
Union Regional Manager, Bruno Noël, complained, “It's art, but there are limits. … It's irresponsible given the context we have in France today, especially with the extremist groups like Black Bloc."
Olivier Sergent, director of Maison Folie Moulins, the organization which hosted the artist collective, told AFP, “there was no desire to provoke. they are references to their culture, their conditions; context in their country, where police are often corrupt. We must not translate everything under the French prism.”
This year, the rotating theme of the Lille3000 cultural event is Mexico, and artist Sosi Rensa explained it was the reason her group settled on a design which criticized Mexican police authorities.
One of the artists, Sosi Rensa, explained, “We must put the controversy in a more global context … This fresco is a symbol of the left and the resistance. It is a question of fraternity, pacifism.
“The frescoes often provoke controversy," she said, however, "in Mexico, the police are useless and do not protect Mexicans. It is an unscrupulous system, completely corrupted. That's the context of the fresco."
Although they never intended to criticize the French police, the artists most certainly could have, given the officers' brutal behavior towards Yellow Vest protesters, a movement which has been ongoing since November 2018.
Over 35 demonstrators have suffered wounds to upper limbs including 5 lost hands, 52 wounds to lower limbs, 3 wounds to the genitals and 189 head wounds including 20 people who have lost an eye.
Thousands of others have been sentenced for participating in the movement while over 1,500 still await trial.