Burlington City Council votes to paint Black Lives Matter mural

Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 12:17 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) The words “Black Lives Matter” will soon be painted across a busy street in Burlington after a unanimous vote by the Burlington City Council Monday night.

The council is inviting the public to help paint the mural this upcoming Sunday. Councilor Karen Paul, D-Ward 6, who spearheaded the initiative, says the mural is a way for the city to reinforce its commitment to racial justice.

The resolution says the goal is to show continued solidarity and honor the Black Lives Matter movement and the members of the Black community who have been affected by racism.

Paul says she knows some people will criticize this as a performative stunt and a distraction from real policy change, but she says that's not the motive.

"While some will view a mural as a symbol, the reality is over hundreds of years, murals have actually been a tool of persuasion," Paul said. "At their most fundamental, they can help communities create meaningful public spaces often in the name of inclusion and equality."

Despite the fact that the resolution got full council support, Councilor Ali Dieng, I-Ward 7, one of two Black people on council, called the move hypocritical. Dieng said he thinks it's insincere for the city to declare Black Lives Matter while the "Everybody loves a parade" mural on the Church Street Marketplace -- which has been called racist -- is still up.

He also criticized some of his colleagues for supporting the Marketplace mural and ignoring people's desires for it to be taken down.

"That's not justice and it will never be justice -- the feelings, the hurt of people who have repeatedly been telling 'This is hurting, take it out.' But you said no. But now because we have 1,000 people show up and ask for the demands, now it's all about Black Lives Matter," Dieng said.

The mural painting starts on Sunday at 2 p.m. The council asks those who attend to wear a mask and physically distance.