RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Many businesses and public buildings have been tagged with graffiti during the days of protests in Richmond, including places of worship. One church is choosing to keep the graffiti in place.

Charlie Dupree, Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, said the graffiti, which reads things like “I can’t breathe,” and “George Floyd” is a reminder that change is needed. George Floyd died after a police officer knelt on his neck in Minnesota.

“I consider these memorials. They represent those people who have lost their lives to injustice,” Dupree said.

Dupree told 8News the spray painted messages will be staying put for now. “We don’t know how long, but we feel like to race to get rid of it, to rush to either spray wash off everything, just kind of sweeps the conversation under the rug and it’s a conversation that’s been swept under the rug for far too long,” he said.

The messages were left on the church’s front steps and on one of the church’s columns after protests in downtown Richmond Saturday night. Now, the graffiti has turned into a memorial. People have left flowers and cards on top of the messages.

“That’s another reason why I hate to remove these right now because I think people need to mourn and they need to do what they can to externalize their feelings,” said Dupree.

The Richmond faith leader spoke about the difficult conversations our country and community are facing.

“It’s hard, it’s just really hard. We’re dealing with so many layers of emotionally draining and really hard stuff,” he said.

Dupree does not know how long the church will leave the graffiti up, but for now, they have no plans of removing it.

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