Survivors of sexual violence raised a memorial in Minneapolis.
For the second time this year, someone tried to smash it to pieces.
There's a jagged hole in a mosaic that stands at the heart of the memorial in Boom Island Park. An impact crater that used to be a woman's face.
An unidentified vandal attacked the memorial and its murals earlier this week. The worst of the damage centered on the image of a woman with dark brown skin and bright red glasses.
Now the survivors who worked for years to create this memorial, and the artist who crafted its mosaics, are left to pick up the pieces.
"It's so disturbing to confront that kind of anger," said mosaic artist Lori Greene, who created six mosaic panels for the memorial when it opened in 2020 — and returned to repair five of them after an attack by a vandal in May 2022.
"You can basically feel the hatred," she said, after surveying the damage from this week's attack. "It feels really ugly. And it feels really racially motivated."
The first attack caused $8,000 in damage to the mosaics that took months to repair. The community rushed to contribute to a GoFundMe to cover repairs to the art, the walkway and a granite marker where the vandal had tried to chip away a message assuring survivors that their community sees them, believes them, and supports them.
Fixing the new damage would mean bringing the panel back to her workshop at Mosaic on a Stick and scrambling to make the panel whole again before the winter deep freeze sets in. A new GoFundMe has raised $3,500 in donations over the past few days.
Park police are investigating and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is weighing how to protect the mural from the next attack.
"This seems particularly malicious," said the Park Board's assistant superintendent for planning, Michael Schroeder. "The vandalism was so particularly directed at the face of a person."
The challenge, he said, is how to protect the memorial without making the space uncomfortable for the people who turn to it for comfort.
Surveillance cameras are an option. Bright lights could make it harder for a vandal to skulk in the shadows. Protective coverings for the mosaics might help absorb the blows.
Schroeder plans to work with the memorial's creators to ensure the security measures don't take away from the experience people have now, as they follow the curving path into the memorial, guided by mosaic panels that tell one survivor's story.
In the first panel, an isolated figure is huddled in a dark woods, alone. Then a second figure appears, offering comfort. More and more figures approach, supporting the survivor as she rises. The final panel — the survivor, supported by her community and supporting her community — is the one the attacker defaced.
The Survivors Memorial was the first permanent space set aside in an American city to honor the courage and the suffering of too many of our neighbors.
Sarah Super had longed for a place like this after she was raped. A place that would make her feel seen, supported, believed.
Super and other survivors worked for years and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to create this memorial.
Two years later, Greene is preparing to piece it back together for the third time.
"We built it for love and for hope and for healing," Greene said. "That was the intention and that will remain."
The mosaics at the Survivors Memorial remind us that there's nothing they can break that we can't mend. Broken pieces can come together to create something beautiful.
"It's just making more scars," Greene said. "I guess that's what we all have."
The latest fundraiser to repair the memorial can be found at gofundme.com/f/restore-vandalized-survivors-memorial.