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Heineken apologizes for using Roxbury mural to sell beer

A bicyclist passes by the mural on Warren Street in Roxbury in 2015.
A bicyclist passes by the mural on Warren Street in Roxbury in 2015. –John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Heineken has apologized for appropriating the “Roxbury Love’’ mural in a series of beer ads which began appearing in Roxbury and Dorchester liquor stores last year.

While the original Warren Street mural, created in 2014 by Deme5 (a.k.a. Richard Gomez) and Thomas “Kwest’’ Burns, features the face of former South African president Nelson Mandela at its center, the Heineken ads co-opted the mural’s color scheme and slogan but swapped out Mandela’s visage for a Heineken bottle.

When Burns first saw the ads, he was surprised that Heineken would appropriate the original design without permission. Because he and Gomez intended the mural to be a beacon of positivity in a community sometimes portrayed negatively, he found Heineken’s use of it to peddle beer appalling.

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