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Valley artists protest racism and police violence through murals

"We imagined these people having to attend a funeral. You see this kid holding flowers. It shows what kind of effect these altercations have on the community."

PHOENIX — You've heard the message that "Black Lives Matter" in protests against racial injustice and police violence across the country, but artists are also sharing those words on city streets and murals as a way to connect the message with people.

Many consider art a universal language that speaks to all people and is able to evoke emotions ideas and thoughts. 

A team of graffiti artists protested in their own way creating murals across from Songbird Coffee and Tea House on Third and McKinley streets.

"I have a good mural, good art family out here," said muralist Giovannie "Just" Dixon. 

Dixon was born and raised in Los Angeles and lived in Phoenix before moving to Denver. He's painted murals for two and half years. While in Phoenix, he developed a community or family of fellow graffiti artists who called him to fly out and work on a Black Lives Matter project. 

That family called on him to fly out from his home base in Denver to help capture a message being heard across the country. 

"I answered the call ... as an artist, it's like, duh, this what I need to be painting about," said Dixon. 

His graffiti family of six painted a collective of murals they say speaks to the very real pain of racism. 

"We imagined these people these people having to attend a funeral so you see this kid holding flowers. It shows what kind of effect these altercations have with the community," said Tempe artist Clyde Thompson. 

"We're all out here in an effort of solidarity, we care about our community," said artist Ashley Marcias. "This is an image that can relate to everybody, primarily people of color and our black community," Muta Santiago.  

Each mural captures different images of the black community but also the human experience. 

"Murals especially, everyone can enjoy it," said artist Nyla Lee.  

Dixon says the murals connect people to history, but that one day, he hopes his family's collective masterpiece will be a reminder that together, we will bring an end to racism. 

"We can portray these images in a fashion that this was happening, but this is where we are now."  

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