Biggie mural in Bushwick painted over by new marijuana dispensary; artist responds

A new Bushwick marijuana dispensary is facing backlash after painting over a mural of Biggie Smalls. The tribute, painted by Huetek, which featured Biggie as a baby with the name “Brooklyn,” had adorned a wall at 85 Suydamn St for about three years before The Emerald Dispensary moved in. Co-founder Christina De Giovanni told the New York Post that advertising regulations from the New York Office of Cannabis Management had forced them cover it, and that they “didn’t want to take it down.”

“[The state compliance officer] said, ‘if the inspector sees it and says no, you’re going to have to delay your opening,’” De Giovanni told the Post, continuing that regulations only allow the name and nature of the business, store hours, address, and phone number to be displayed, with any signage offering “enticement” prohibited.

De Giovanni told the Post that she and fellow co-founder Ray Roman had used “removable anti-graffiti paint” to cover the mural and said, “it’s really unfortunate that we haven’t had the opportunity to get an honest start before getting backlash for something that wasn’t our decision.” She added, “our next move is to work with regulators to try to change this.”

Roman told the Post, “I’ve been living in the neighborhood all my life, 45 years, and I didn’t want to do it. I was kinda scared doing it. It hurts. It’s so sad. People keep asking, ‘Why did you do that?’ And we have to explain to them over and over. We had a lot of backlash on Reddit. I don’t even want to read it.”

Huetek posted a pair of Instagram stories in response, writing, “At the end of the day the n****s with money pushout the culture and the essence of what the streets and brooklyn IS ALL ABOUT…. FOR WHAT? …another dispensary…EVERYTHING I PUT OUT INTO THE WORLD IS APART OF MY BROOKLYN BORN AND RAISED DNA…LOVE FOR MUSIC ..LOVE FOR MY CULTURE..LOVE FOR MY CRAFT…BROOKLYN RAISED ME …SO I WILL ONLY PUT OUT 🔥 IF N****S CLAIM TO BE ABOUT THE CLUTURE AND ABOUT BK..u fight 4 that shit.”

In a second story, Huetek wrote, “n****s claim they about brooklyn love and let this go down.ha nice job. Anything for the $.”

The dispensary also posted a message on their Instagram story, writing, “It’s a sad day at the shop. New York State cannabis regulation require no enticing artwork or signage outside of licensed dispensaries. For those of you walking by, you’ll notice a change in art work. We’re confident in time the state regulations will change. When they do, we will bring the artists back to reinstate their work.”

Emerald Dispensary response