Redwood City Councilmember Giselle Hale is requesting that the city erect a monument or mural to the Black Lives Matter movement.
On Tuesday, Hale announced on social media that she has “submitted a referral asking Council to adopt a resolution in support of Black Lives Matters and to commission a mural or monument that visually affirms our support.”
“Over the past week it’s been clear our community is craving a transparent and open discussion of this matter,” Hale said. “A referral affords us just that.”
Hale’s request follows the city’s recent controversial decision to remove the Black Lives Matter street mural on Broadway. After a large peaceful BLM protest in Redwood City on June 2 calling for justice for George Floyd, local resident Daniel Pease received city approval to paint Black Lives Matter in large yellow letters on Broadway. The city said the mural was supposed to be a temporary installation and posed a traffic concern. But many in the community believe the mural’s removal was a response to pressure from a local real estate attorney, who recently requested the right to paint MAGA 2020 on the same street.
The attorney, Maria Rutenberg, says the city should have engaged in a public process before agreeing to make a statement in the public square.
Hale said she wants to do just that.
“I hope that the recent debate around the Black Lives Matters street installation in our City was a challenge of process, not sentiment,” Hale said. “This conversation can marry those two things and create a more permanent expression of our values.”
The next step in the process is that the City Council will determine if it should authorize staff time towards this effort. Council did not approve the installation of the previous BLM street mural. Climate has requested city documents to better understand the process by which Pease’s request was approved, and also why there was a sudden move to remove it.
“There’s been a lot of back and forth commenting on what should have, could have, and even what should not have happened to the BLM mural on Broadway,” Pease stated on Facebook while sharing Hale’s statement on the issue.
Previously, Pease said the controversy surrounding the mural revealed that “the amount of hate filled hearts and minds that still exist in this city is real.”
“I trust that in time people will come together and the voices that stand for BLM will be heard,” he said.
Hale credited the recently-deceased congressman and Civil Rights icon John Lewis as part of her motivation to request a public process to erect a BLM mural or monument. City Council ended its Monday meeting by honoring Lewis.
“His seminal quote ‘Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble’ is one he lived to the end, choosing to spend his final days visiting the Black Lives Matters mural in Washington D.C.,” Hale said.
Hale said she wants to honor that legacy “by getting into some good, necessary trouble and extending an invitation to my colleagues and the community to join me.”
“We are inspired by the death of George Floyd and the life of John Lewis to make ourselves vulnerable,” she said. “We have to listen to our neighbors and respect one another. The opposition to the simple statement ‘Black Lives Matter’ is proof that the work of John Lewis is not done.”
Hale added that a mural is not enough, but “it’s how we begin a conversation that leads to a cultural shift.”
“From Selma to Minneapolis to Redwood City, change comes only when we make it happen,” Hale said. “Let’s make it happen here.”
Photo credit: Jim Kirkland