'Who's Gary Speed?': Faceless vigilantes vow to continue covering Leeds United 'Burley Banksy' art

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An anonymous vigilante graffiti group have vowed to continue to repaint Leeds United artwork by the 'Burley Banksy' - as they denied knowing who Gary Speed was.

-> 'I am heartbroken': Graffiti group claim responsibility for covering up 14 'Burley Banksy' Leeds United murals
Andy McVeigh, 49, has spent the last 12 months coming up with creative designs to paint over graffiti or brighten up the dull electrical boxes and bollards around Elland Road.

Andy McVeigh

Andy McVeigh

Andy - dubbed the 'Burley Banksy' by friends - creates pieces for iconic moments throughout the history of the club.

However, 14 pieces of Andy's work were covered up last weekend.

This followed a previous incident where two boxes were covered in red paint.

The pieces covered include a poignant mural tribute to Gary Speed - which was painted over on the morning of his birthday by the group.

Now, in a new email sent to the Yorkshire Evening Post, 'Leeds Residents Against Graffiti' have claimed to "stand for the community".

They vowed to continue to cover up Andy's work and said they were forced to 'live' with the 'Leeds United slogans' on a daily basis.

The group believe only 5% of Leeds residents attend Elland Road on a match-day - while "90% of the population aren't bothered about Leeds United".

In the response, they said: "Beeston and Holbeck are very varied and diverse community areas, yet NONE of this painting actually represents the area.

"Once a fortnight, 40,000 people (who are majority white and male) descend on our community for a couple of hours and then leave.

"In a population of over 800,000 that is only 5% of Leeds residents.

"Being generous and assuming they have as many supporters who DON’T go to games then they DO represent only 10% of the population.

"WE stand by our statement that 90% of the population aren't bothered about Leeds United."

The group said they have to "live" with the Leeds United slogans on a daily basis.

They added: "Why does this so called “artist” manage to paint cheery slogans in Kirkstall, but not in our area?

"Why can’t we have flowers and cheerful greetings instead of the aggressive slogans?

"Unfortunately this man seems to have a narrow vision restricted solely to his own LUFC agenda."

The anonymous group - which reportedly consists of four members - said they would rather have 'any' other artwork with represents 'their' community.

-> Fundraiser set up for 'Burley Banksy' as Leeds United fans slam mural cover-up
Leeds Residents Against Graffiti continued: "If he wants to paint some proper community art, representing social, religious and gender diversity then WE WELCOME IT as long as he doesn’t continue his yellow, blue and white obsession.

"Perhaps the council could throw this open to ALL local artists – there is a some vibrant street art in the city, but there were only LUFC slogans in Beeston and Holbeck.

"We go so far as to say all 4 of us would defend and help maintain PROPER community artwork.

"The physical threats made in the Yorkshire Evening Post online comments show the mentality we are dealing with here.

"WE don’t threaten anyone, and we have committed no crime.

"We take a stand for the community.

"We WILL continue to remove LUFC graffiti, but will NOT touch any community-focused paintings (as you may have noticed)."

In an attached note, the group claim to not know who Gary Speed was due to not being football fans.

They explained how they intended 'no insult to his memory' by defacing the tribute piece with black paint and could "see that the timing was poor".

However, the group added: "If the best memorial to a man’s life is to stencil a junction box, then that is a pretty poor sort of memorial don’t you think?

"No way would we touch an official memorial."

Thousands of pounds has been raised in support of the 'Burley Banksy' since news of the cover-up broke.

Hundreds of Leeds residents showed their support for Andy following the row.

Louise Mill said: "I think these people should be ashamed of themselves, it is such a mean spirited thing to do.

"It is pretty obvious they do not represent 90% of the Leeds population just by these comments alone.

"I really liked those boxes and I hope they will be repainted."

Martin Garrity added: "They make our city unique - art is art - you can choose not to like it but don’t deface it."

Joanne Marie said: "Why ruin what brightens up some boring eye sores!

"My kids love spotting these as we drive through, so sad that destroying creativity is someone's mission in life, my heart goes out to the person who painted them."

Speaking on Tuesday to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Andy said: "The response I have seen has been overwhelmingly positive.

"I did not realise the amount of support I would receive, it has been amazing.

"I knew people liked the art but not the full extent.

"I have had people send me pictures they have taken next to the box and had literally hundreds of messages.

"The response has been unbelievable."

A fundraiser page set up in support of the 'Burley Banksy' has smashed an original £500 target.

To donate, click here.
A statement from Leeds City Council said: "The current position from Leeds City Council is that we are happy to discuss this issue with all parties to find a solution."