The impending removal of the Black Lives Matter street mural in Redwood City is a source of controversy.
Local resident Daniel Pease led the effort to paint Black Lives Matter in large yellow letters on Broadway after receiving approval to do so by the city. On Facebook Wednesday, Pease said he was disappointed when the city informed him the mural would be removed this weekend due to traffic and vehicle code reasons. He also posted about a local attorney’s proposal to City Council to paint MAGA 2020 on the street, saying the attorney’s note played a role in the city’s decision to remove the BLM mural. He charged the city with caving to legal pressure.
Maria Rutenberg, the local attorney requesting that a MAGA 2020 mural be installed near the BLM mural, denied threatening legal action against the city in a post on the Redwood City Residents Say: “What?” Facebook group on Friday. Rutenberg said she also did not request the removal of the BLM mural. She said she “saw that Courthouse Square was being used as a public forum, and, as a Redwood City resident, wanted to participate.”
“There is a long and involved process by which the city council can erect monuments, which allows the members of our community to collectively decide on ways to declare our shared values,” Rutenberg said, adding later, “The Redwood City council and its members have unconstitutionally chosen to become arbiters of private expression.”
In a statement, the city did not specify when it would remove the BLM mural, but said the installation was meant to be temporary. Here’s the city’s statement in full:
“Staff authorized the temporary Black Lives Matter installation at the request of a resident. The installation was allowed as an extension of City efforts to preserve art related to the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests in Redwood City, and to complement the chalk art mural commissioned by the Parks and Arts Foundation on Courthouse Square over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. The painting was informally processed, and intended for a short duration. As expressed in the City’s vision statement, the City of Redwood City strives to be a community where people of all backgrounds and income levels can thrive. We are in the process of scheduling a series of community meetings to seek ways for policing and for all City services to work better for everyone, and we invite all members of the community to participate. Go to https://www.redwoodcity.org/racialequity to learn more.”
Photo credit: Jim Kirkland