Lightning Strike? Cause of George Floyd Mural Collapse Disputed

A mural honoring George Floyd crumbled in July 2021, but the exact cause is undetermined.

Published Jul 15, 2021

 (ABC 13 / Twitter)
Image Via ABC 13 / Twitter

On July 13, 2021, a mural honoring George Floyd, the Black man whose death in police custody in Minneapolis sparked a series of protests across the United States in the summer of 2020, crumbled in Toledo, Ohio.

These are genuine images of a Floyd mural, created by artist David Ross, that collapsed in Toledo in July 2021. The exact cause of the collapse, however, has not been officially determined.

As of this writing, there appear to be two plausible possibilities.

The first is that this mural was struck by lightning. Witnesses told police and fire departments that they saw a bolt of lightning strike the building shortly before the mural collapsed. The CBS affiliate in Toledo, WTOL11 reported:

A north Toledo mural has been reduced to rubble after it was reportedly struck by lightning Tuesday and painted bricks still littered the area late Wednesday afternoon [...]

A witness who saw the wall fall told TFRD they had seen a lightning bolt strike the building. The department later confirmed the strike to be the cause of the collapse.

No cleanup effort was under way yet on Wednesday. One of the things the city is looking at is whether this building needs to be demolished entirely following the lightning strike. A spokesperson for the city said building officials have determined that an emergency demolition of the building is not necessary at this time.

In addition to witnesses saying that they saw a lightning bolt hit the building, WTOL 11 First Alert Doppler radar also recording a lighting strike on the same block as the mural and at the same time of the collapse:

While it is certainly plausible that a lightning strike caused this mural to collapse, a city building inspector disputed this account. While lightning may have struck near the building, inspector Hugh Koogan said he found no evidence that this strike actually hit the building. According to Koogan, the city had previously noticed that the mural was bowing in the middle and that the collapse was likely the result of natural deterioration.

The Toledo Blade reported:

City building inspector Hugh Koogan said it appeared to be a result of natural deterioration. The city had noticed the middle of the wall, where most of the damage occurred, bowing recently, he said.

“It was just age. It just came away,” Mr. Koogan said. “It happens to the older buildings.”

That witness told authorities they saw lightning strike the building at the site of the collapse, but Mr. Koogan, who talked to the person, said he found no signs to support that theory. He also dismissed claims that the rainy weather was to blame.

Regardless of the cause of the collapse, Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said that the mural would be replaced. Kapszukiewicz told CNN:

"We will work with the Arts Commission and the artist to make sure that a new mural can replace the old, so that the message at the core of this artwork can be heard."

[See also from Snopes: Was George Floyd Statute in NYC Defaced With White Nationalist Symbol?]

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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