SF artist BiP speaks out on police brutality with Hayes Valley mural. For years, BiP has had “Baby With a Handgun” in the back of his mind — literal sketches in his back pocket. Every time he thought to do it, though, he’d back out, pick another subject, one that felt less intense or provocative. He says it’s been a fight to get all of his murals up, even those that don’t critique the police. BiP doesn’t work with assistants, so it’s all him, crossing back and forth on the lift, mixing colors, painting some lines and then running downstairs to take it all in before going back up to make corrections. BiP is a perfectionist, but he also works alone because it means something to him that people know he’s so invested in the art he makes. “They know I touched every inch of the wall. They know it’s important to me.
Before he settled on a final design for “Baby With a Handgun”, BiP says he sat down with family members of people killed by police violence. He spent a lot of time, too, thinking about how to make his statement. “My job is not to sit here grinding an ax,” he says. And so, the mural is a conflicted one. You can see it in the image and in BiP’s public words. As he wrote recently on Instagram: “do you want to be the one making split second life or death decisions? do you think you can handle that every day with never a mistake? who could? I wouldn’t choose that. I’ll be the first to say I’m thankful for the ones that would. and I believe in my heart no one wants to be the one to unjustly kill another man, I believe that. but at the end of the day… the problem exists that police brutality is out of control. I’m sick in my heart for it.”