Wednesday morning, at the corner of Malcolm and Main in Deep Ellum, a street artist made a statement without saying a word.
"As long as my right hand is usable, then my voice is heard," Gabriel Thomas said as he dipped his brush in paint. "I'm working on Martin Luther King Jr.... hopefully it comes out good."
As Thomas painted, cars honked and people stopped to watch and take photos.
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"I'm trying to show my daughter the drawing," one man said as he talked on FaceTime with his young daughter. MLK's image had not taken shape yet. "Is it George Washington," she asked in a child's voice. "No," he laughed. "It looks like it should have already been here," he said of the mural.
"I love standing up for what's right and I love painting," Thomas said, brushing black paint on a stark yellow background. "The bright background is telling a story...of courage, and strength, and joy, and standing up for what's right."
In the last week, Thomas painted panels of African Americans that have been killed by police; including George Floyd, Botham Jean, and Sandra Bland. The last one compelled Dallas Police Officer Rueben Lozano to stop and pray with Thomas on the sidewalk as he worked on the mural. The moment was captured in a photo taken by Claire Crow.
"And when I prayed for him I was super emotional and I was crying," Lozano said. "I just needed him to understand that I see him and I hear him, all the people of color, and I understand why there's protests, and I needed him to know that I supported him."
"It's not me hugging a police officer," Thomas said of the photo. "It's just two brothers hugging each other."
Thomas hopes his art makes people look inward and think about what they can do to make things better.
"We have the opportunity to do better most of the time in our life, but most of the time we're afraid and we back out of doing what's right," Thomas said. "I'm gonna say this quote: Dr. Martin Luther King, it's always the right time to do the right thing."