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PORTLAND, Maine — An anonymous, spray-painted mural appeared on a retaining wall beneath the sewage treatment plant on the East End this week. The yards-long image is a thank you card to essential workers still on the job amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
Dedicated to the “helpers and the heroes,” it simply reads “thank you” in 6-foot-high letters on a purple background. On the sides of the written words are cartoon depictions of some of those heroes and helpers.
A bus driver, a nurse, a doctor and sanitation worker can be seen along with an ambulance, grocery store clerk and mother — or possibly a teacher — with two children.
The artwork is not signed.
The 100-foot wall is a city-sanctioned surface for spray-can graffiti artists. In 2016 it bore a controversial depiction of then Gov. Paul LePage in Ku Klux Klan regalia. The city refused to remove it citing the First Amendment, but it sparked a controversy over the wall that spilled into 2017. Ultimately the city and the Portland Water District, which operates the sewage treatment plant, decided to keep the wall open to artists.