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culture

Spotted: A Mural Celebrating Peace, Teamwork, and The Esplanade

Neighbourhood comes together to beautify a basketball court destroyed by a police chase.

SPOTTED BY: Instagram user js_toronto

WHERE: The Esplanade Basketball Court (Berkeley Street)

WHEN: Saturday, July 19, 2 p.m.

WHAT: A mural—organized by non-profit Jamii and painted by 16 local youths under the guidance of artists Elisa (Shalak Attack) Monreal and Julian Periquet—that celebrates the strength, resilience, and creativity of the local community. In July 2013, a police cruiser pursued a suspect onto the basketball court at David Crombie Park, tearing up the tiles that, along with the court itself, had been funded through a gift from Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment. MLSE restored the court (this time without tiles), but a cement wall on one side remained blank and undistinguished—so Jamii reached out to others in the neighbourhood and created a work of art that reflects its “core values of love, peace, diversity, nature and teamwork.”

Police from 51 Division were also involved in the project, helping to fix the court and prepare the wall for painting. “There have been some tensions with youths [and the police], but I wouldn’t say this is an at-risk neighbourhood,” Isorine Marc, Jamii’s executive director, told the Star. “It’s very friendly, very community oriented; people know each other, they care. [Having the police help] showed they are more just people than police officers. It changed the relationship, which I think is important.”

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