On the bank of the Mississippi stands a memorial as beautiful as it is meaningful.
Its bright murals trace the story of a survivor, moving through trauma and grief to healing; surrounded and uplifted by an entire community.
The path that curves through the site is lined with bricks, stamped with names of supporters and messages to survivors. We believe you. We stand with you. You are not alone.
Last week, someone pried bricks from the walkway and smashed them, again and again, into the murals.
They scratched and scribbled at the marble markers as if they were trying to blot out the call to action carved into the stone: "As a community, we are choosing to break the silence that protects perpetrators and isolates survivors in their suffering."
Someone tried to destroy the Survivor's Memorial and its message.
The memorial is proving as resilient as the survivors it was created to celebrate and console. The community has donated thousands of dollars already to mend the damage.
"It was such a beautiful and calming space," said Anishaa Kamesh, a survivor and board member of Break the Silence — the group that worked to create the memorial and will keep working until it is made whole again. "I would like people to know that such a space exists."
An attack on a space dedicated to breaking the silence around rape and sexual violence proves just how much we need a space like this.
"We have decided as a society to talk a lot more about sexual violence, [and] this shows how much more these conversations need to happen," Kamesh said. "It's just that much more important for spaces like this to exist."
The memorial was calm and beautiful. It will be again.
Mosaics find the beauty in broken things. Two years ago, mosaic artist Lori Greene created six panels for the memorial. This week, she's preparing to repair damage to five of them.
"We don't want anybody's anger to win," she said. "It's always been about love and healing and it's going to continue to be that way."
Each panel took Greene about two months to piece together, working 60-hour weeks. Sometimes with a team of helpers, sometimes alone. The first image of the memorial – a huddled figure, isolated and in agony in a dark, lonely space – she pieced together alone in the early days of the pandemic.
"Because I felt it was too painful," said Greene, who owns the Mosaic on a Stick community art space in St. Paul. "I didn't want my assistants to absorb any of that pain."
Still, she was shaken by the senseless cruelty of the vandalism, and the brute force of the attack. There were multiple blows directed at figures of women on the memorial and at the image of a Black man in a hoodie in the fifth panel.
As of Wednesday, an online fundraiser had brought in more than $8,100 to repair the memorial. For more information, visit tinyurl.com/zhs8pbnx.
"It's just really painful," Greene said. "But it will be beautiful again."
Anyone with information about the vandalism can contact the Minneapolis Park Police at 612-230-6550.