Floyd, 46, was killed in police custody in May 2020, sparking nationwide protests. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes, was later convicted on three charges of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He was sentenced to 22 ½ years in prison.
“Many see the male figure as George Floyd,” Garvey said in the email, “but our Law School has always seen the figure as Jesus.”
In response to media coverage of the painting earlier this week, the university has received a “substantial number of emails and phone calls,” Garvey said.
“Some critics called the image blasphemous because they saw it as deifying or canonizing George Floyd. Some comments that we received were thoughtful and reasonable. Some were offensive and racist. Much of the criticism came from people unconnected to the University,” he said.
Garvey wrote that as the controversy developed, the university issued a statement, which he included in his email.
“The icon ‘Mama’ is a pieta depicting Mary and her Son, Jesus Christ. The letters in the halo are Ὁ ὬΝ, which is shorthand in Greek for ‘I Am.’ The letters are used in icons only in connection with Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” the earlier statement said.
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