Rockford artist creates mural, brings unity to the stateline

Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 10:08 PM CDT
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Protests, petitions and paintings are a few ways locals fight against injustices. Rodrigo Ceballos is a 27-year-old Rockfordian who wanted to take action after seeing the video of George Floyd.

"[I thought] what's another way I can get my voice out there? And art is one of the things people say I'm decent at so why not give it a shot," says Ceballos.

He and his sister spent eight hours painting a massive mural at Reuben Aldeen Park in Rockford. The image is a Black Lives Matter symbol, and it's called "Rockford Cares." Ceballos invited community members to head out to the park to write what they care about. Since then, dozens responded.

"You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think," Ceballos reads off of the wall. "Liberty and Justice for All. Black girl magic," he continues.

Other community members took pictures in front of the painting in the graffiti-filled lot.

"I support anything that stands for justice," says Donald Johnson, who recently moved to Rockford. "Everybody deserves to be equally treated, you know all races. And I saw this from a distance and couldn't help but check it out."

"It shows what's going on inside the world and how we support it as Rockford," says Christyna Lamantia, who showed her support and signed the mural.

Ceballos says he did not expect the mural to still be up a week later, as graffiti artists often cover the area quickly. He says the purpose is to show that Rockford cares and matters. He believes there needs to be a level of unity at a local level.

"We can't get the police station together, we cant get a whole state or country together if right here in our town there's issues."

And onlookers agree.

"Just seeing our community come together and do stuff like this it just shows that we as a community do care," says Rockford resident Javier Millan. "You know Rockford actually cares."

Ceballos encourages everyone to bring chalk to the site and write about what matters to them. He says it's a good start, but until there is real change in the area the fight continues.