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Duluth artist's bin Laden painting stirs debate

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Duluth artist's bin Laden painting stirs debate
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Osama bin Laden is slowing traffic near a tattoo and custom paint business on Central Entrance in Duluth.

About one in three motorists is checking out the hood of a Ford truck displayed outside Dark Angel Ink, according to the shop's tattoo and airbrush artist who simply goes by the name Mick. On the hood, he has painted a graphic image of Osama bin Laden being shot in the head by a Navy Seal. The image includes an American flag and a helicopter with smoke and flames coming from it.

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Mick said it was a spur-of-the-moment decision to paint the scene after bin Laden was killed May 1. He didn't get a chance to display it right away, however, because the weather was not cooperative. After the wind blew it over, damaging it, he repainted it and it's been on display during good weather in the past week.

He acknowledges the painting could be viewed negatively. Some people have criticized the tone of celebrations around the country, including Sam Ludwig, a senior at Duluth Central High School.

"I really don't know what to say when faced with that," he said in a Facebook message about the Ford hood, just below First United Methodist Church. "It's crude, it's offensive, and it is certainly not Christian or Patriotic. I'm all for first amendment expression, but this seems to be nothing other than xenophobic and sick."

Mick said he made the painting while thinking in terms of all the deaths caused by bin Laden.

"When I think about it, I think of the kids who died (because of him)," he said. "(His actions) changed everything in our world."

About 20-30 people per day are giving positive reviews by honking, cheering and stopping to take photos.

"I had people at 6:30 in the morning stopping to take pictures," Mick said. "They think it's great."

He said he's had soldiers stop and pose for photos with the image as well as ambulance workers and firefighters.

The idea for the painting came to Mick quickly, in part because he had a military customer over the winter who had talked about painting something similar on his vehicle.

"And that was before this even happened," he said.

The finished product took about six hours to create, and he's OK with the statement it makes.

"It should make people proud," he said.

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