September 8, 2013.
I was out of the country when I read the news. My Instagram feed had lit up. A Miami Beach teen known as REEFA was tased and died as a result. He was fleeing Miami Beach police officers for tagging a vacant store front that was formerly a McDonald's on 71st Street and Collins avenue. REEFA aka Israel Hernandez-Llach was just 18 years old.
The local artists community was incensed. Within a few days the artists had organized a protest at the scene of the tragedy. Stickers and stencils had been made. The word was out on all the social media channels. This act of violence would not be tolerated. The family has since filed a lawsuit against the city of Miami Beach and the Miami Beach Police Department, it alleges that REEFA'S civil rights were violated.
It's been about a month now since the event and memorial pieces are popping up all over the city of Miami but nothing on Miami Beach. If you visited the scene you would never know what took place there. The area has been erased of any graff or malfeasance.
I was speaking with a friend of mine who spoke at Miami Beach High School and knew REEFA, he was distraught about the situation. "You can't tell anything happened at the scene, that is where all the tagging and memorials should be."
A Wynwood property owner contacted an artist who goes by 131. They knew each other. The property owner asked him if he was interested in doing a memorial for REEFA at his property on 23rd Street and N. Miami Avenue. At first 131 wasn't sure of his role in the matter. 131 went with his mother to speak with the property owner. His mother confided to him that she always worried about him when he was on the streets as a teen. That the same thing could have happened to him.
131 decided then to spear head the effort. Friends of his would all do a piece to memorialize the young artist. BLEWS would paint a lotus with REEFA'S soul floating off. In the middle REEFA was doing a tail slide on a skateboard. It's just one way the community would remember him.
Some of those who have contributed so far are FREEK, AHOL, MECS, QUAKE, ERAZE, BLEWS and 131. A few more are expected before it's finished.