Posts mislead on Georgia artist's mural of Trump's mug shot

Social media posts are claiming a video shows a mural being painted as a tribute to former president Donald Trump based on a mug shot taken after his arrest in the US state of Georgia. This is missing context; the artist told AFP the painting was not made in support of the former president, and the clip shared online does not show the final product.

"Trump mugshot mural in Atlanta. The backfire continues," says an August 27, 2023 post on X from Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, who has previously promoted other misinformation.

Fox News host Jesse Watters used a similar clip in a segment on his August 28 show, claiming the mug shot "breathed new life into the Trump campaign and broadened his appeal to Black Americans."

<span>Screenshot from X, formerly known as Twitter, taken August 28, 2023</span>
Screenshot from X, formerly known as Twitter, taken August 28, 2023

Similar claims spread across X, formerly known as Twitter, and other platforms after Trump was arrested August 24 in Georgia on racketeering and conspiracy charges in connection with efforts to overturn the 2020 US presidential election results.

Highlighting a 9-second clip of an artist painting the scowling mug shot on a wall along the Atlanta Beltline, the posts are claiming the mural shows Trump's prosecution "backfiring" against Trump's opponents, cementing his status as "a legend" or solidifying support for his candidacy as he seeks to return to the White House in 2024.

"They love him!!" one of the posts on X says.

But the posts sharing footage of the Georgia mural are misleading.

They do not show the completed project, which includes a text blurb tying Trump's 2016 campaign slogan to his arrest (archived here).

"M.A.G.A. MY ASS GOT ARRESTED," the mural depicts Trump saying.






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A post shared by Chris Veal (@caveal)

Chris Veal, the Atlanta-based artist behind the painting, told AFP in an email: "The mural deff (sic) is not in support of Trump."

"I knew the mug shot by nature would be an iconic image the second it was taken, so I just thought it would be funny to paint it," Veal said. "I don't belong to any political party, but I am left leaning and would consider myself progressive in my views. If people on the right enjoy the piece, that's fine too. It's not meant to be taken super seriously or drawing major lines in the sand. I just thought it was funny."

Fox 5 Atlanta captured additional photos of the artist in action (archived here). Interviewed at the scene, Veal told the local outlet he hopes passersby "get a kick out of it" and "get out and vote."

According to his Instagram, Veal has also made murals of Georgia politicians including former president Jimmy Carter, the late congressman John Lewis, and Senator Raphael Warnock -- all Democrats. He also painted one depicting Trump as an alien from the 1988 movie "They Live."

Trump, the first former or current president in US history to face criminal charges, has been indicted in four separate cases, setting the stage for a series of criminal trials as he takes on a crowded field of Republican challengers in his bid to reclaim the White House.

The former president stands accused of colluding with 18 other defendants to overturn the 2020 election result in the southern state. His 2024 campaign has claimed it raised millions of dollars since the release of the mug shot, which was within hours converted into T-shirts, mugs, stickers and other merchandise.

AFP debunked other misinformation about Trump's mug shot here.