Fate of Burlington mural still up in the air

Published: Jan. 29, 2018 at 5:34 PM EST
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Connecting Church Street to the parking garage in downtown Burlington you can find a mural filled with some familiar faces and places.

“I think it represents Burlington pretty well. I like that there are lots of pictures of Burlington that are well known like Bernie Sanders,” said Mahala Marshall a Burlington resident.

Stationed in the ally way of Leahy Way since 2012, the mural is called "Everyone Loves a Parade." But not everyone feels the commissioned piece accurately reflects the city's diversity. Some are calling for the mural to be taken down.

“The mural is racist, classless, sexist, historically inaccurate, and benefiting and elevating business owners above the working class,” said William Davenport of Burlington.

“I don’t see a lot of black people on there,” said Burlington resident Abdi Adam.

Others want to see it stay.

“It represents a lot of cultures, a lot of activities over the years and I don't see how it offends anybody,” said Lee Wrigley from South Burlington.

“This is a very iconic wall. A lot of people like to stop and look at it,” said Kirsten Kallem from Long Island and a student at St. Michael’s College.

Burlington City councilor Ali Dieng is a vocal opponent of the mural. Monday night the council agreed to amend his resolution calling for its removal.

“We found a compromise as a community. We found that we made a mistake and we all come together now to try to solve it,” said Dieng.

The council wants the city attorney to present options to the council and to outline the potential legal ramifications. The mural is on private property and was previously privately funded.

“The pain and the suffering that has been going on for over 5 years needs to end and how we end, we will decide together,” said Dieng.

Some of the people who are not represented on the mural, like Vermont's native Abenaki tribe say they want to be a part of the process moving forward.

“It’s problematic just from the fact that it doesn't represent Abenaki people but I want to find ways to work with you guys in promoting our culture in a positive manner,” said Chief Don Stevens of the Nulheagan Abenaki Tribe.

The city’s attorney will let the council know if they can lawfully take the mural down by mid-March.

Dieng says if the council can't remove it he plans to propose resolutions to alter the mural.