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Banksy has descended upon the city of Birmingham in the United Kingdom to create a Christmas-themed mural with a powerful message on homelessness in the country.

Yesterday, December 9, the ever-elusive British street artist posted a video on his Instagram account showing two reindeer painted on a brick wall pulling a homeless man on a bench. The mural was painted over the weekend in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, according to the Guardian.

“God bless Birmingham,” Banksy wrote in a caption for the video. The anonymous artist adds, “In the 20 minutes we filmed Ryan on this bench passers-by gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars and a lighter – without him ever asking for anything.”

However, hours after Banksy posted the video on social media, the mural was vandalized when a local vandal decorated the reindeer with red noses. According to BBC, The Jewellery Quarter Development Trust (JQDT) had installed barriers around the mural in Vyse Street to protect it from vandalism, but a person managed to jump them and alter the work. The local railway company, Network Rail, later covered the piece with plexiglass to prevent further vandalism.

“As a railway family our hearts go out to the homeless, especially at this time of year,” David Golding of Network Rail told the BBC. “We discourage any graffiti and we spend a lot of time removing it from around the network … but it’s not every day we get a bona fide Banksy.”

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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a staff writer for Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...