REDWOOD CITY (KPIX 5) — Many communities across the country are displaying “Black Lives Matter” street murals. Redwood City was one of them until last week when the city quietly removed it.
Redwood City resident Dan Pease got permission from city officials to paint the “Black Lives Matter” sign on Broadway as part of a Fourth of July public art celebration. The city even supplied him with yellow poster board paint to do it.
“Because we were using the poster board paint that would eventually deteriorate over time, my understanding from them was that the mural would last as long as the paint lasted,” Pease explained.
But, last Thursday, the city washed the sign away after being contacted by local real estate attorney Maria Rutenburg, who said that if the street was now a public forum, she wanted a sign of her own reading “MAGA 2020.”
“I saw “Black Lives Matter” sign appearing on Broadway Street on the asphalt and I figured that’s gonna be a new public space, open for discussion, and I wanted to get my message out, too.” Rutenburg said.
“MAGA” is, of course, short for Make America Great Again, a rallying cry for supporters of President Trump. Faced with the possibility of a political and/or legal fight, the city suddenly decided that Dan Pease’s sign was a traffic hazard that might cause accidents and they removed it in the middle of the night. Pease says he doesn’t consider “Black Lives Matter” to be a political statement but he understands the position the city was in.
“I have no hard feelings to the city council,” Pease said. “I am disappointed but, at the same time, I am very grateful that they allowed me to put that message on Broadway.”
With the message removed, area resident Art Elola was also disappointed that, in today’s climate, a city cannot express the idea that Black lives matter without starting a fight.
“They’re afraid, you know? And that’s the whole movement — is we’ve been afraid to do what’s right,” Elola said. “The whole crux of the movement is be bold and let’s do the right thing and here they’re setting an example and it’s unfortunate. It’s unfortunate other people put the pressure on them, too.”