Editor’s note: The wall was vandalized overnight Wednesday. For the latest updates click here.
It may not be the wall he was hoping to build, but President Donald Trump can take much of the credit for a new ‘Wall of Lies’ in Bushwick.
A 50-foot by 10-foot outdoor mural displaying more than 20,000 false or misleading claims told by the president during his term in office went up Saturday on Grattan Street, next to bar and music venue Pine Box Rock Shop.
Passing by the mural Monday, Bushwick local Justin Martin, 29, said he was taken by the sheer number of false claims on show. “I don’t think I’ve even said 20,000 things in the last four years.”
He said he felt the visual reminder might be the push some needed to get to the polling booth, especially for those who felt they didn’t need to vote for Joe Biden in the Democratic stronghold of New York.
Each of the false or misleading claims on display in the mural were recorded, fact-checked and categorized by The Washington Post during the president’s term and are displayed in chronological order, color-coded by category (yellow for Russia, pink for Environment, green for Coronavirus etc).
The ‘Wall of Lies’ was created by Tom Tenney, the executive director of non-profit Internet radio station Radio Free Brooklyn, and Phil Buehler, a Bushwick photographer.
Tenney initially had the idea to do a 24/7 marathon of the President’s false claims on Radio Free Brooklyn — even getting celebrities to read some — but the pandemic made it difficult to execute. Then Buehler suggested doing a visual display.
“We came up with this idea of finding an empty space big enough in Bushwick to actually display them. Even in 16-point type, it’s a lot of real estate that it takes up,” Tenney said. “Visually, you really get a sense of being able to step back and take in the enormity.”
Passerby Jennie Burkhard pointed out the wall only displays false statements made up until July. “I imagine in the past few months we might have gained quite a few feet,” the Bushwick local said. “It is terrifying that this man could potentially have another four years of this many lies.”
She said the misleading statements around coronavirus jumped out to her as she reflected on misinformation put out as the virus began to spread, and a U.S. death toll that now topped 208,000.
On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo announced schools would close nine New York ZIP codes, including Brooklyn’s Borough Park, Midwood, Gravesend, Bensonhurst and Sheepshead Bay.
The New York Times reported Monday that local leaders in these ZIP codes said the surge in infections was driven by “denialism, unfounded hope of herd immunity and misinformation spread by President Trump.”
Queens local Genesis Andrade, 19, a first-time voter, said the ‘Wall of Lies’ didn’t surprise her. “I believe he has said every single one of these things. He seems to make everything about himself and also calls out different groups of people and generalizes them so harshly. I don’t know how that’s normalized for him.”
Meanwhile Cyrielle Talla, 20, from Bed-Stuy and Lindsay Varzarevsky said they stopped because they were visually drawn to the wall. “The color-coding is genius,” Talla said. “I think it would be so cool to have more up.”
Tenney said while they would love to put up more ‘Walls of Lies,’ it wasn’t financially feasible for them, and they wouldn’t want the wall to be vandalized.
However the wall has been so popular, they’ve decided to keep it up until the election, instead of taking it down Sunday as planned.
United States Senator Chuck Schumer even stopped in for a photo on the weekend. “So many people were taking selfies in front of the wall,” Tenney said. “I don’t think we’re teaching anybody anything new with it, but we’re reminding people.”