People’s Park mural will say “BLACK LIVES MATTER” at least through August, maybe a few months longer

cropped 2020-06-26 BLM mural IMG_3349
On June 19, 2020, the “Welcome to Bloomington, you belong here” mural at People’s Park in Bloomington was painted over with the phrase, “BLACK LIVES MATTER.” (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

At their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, Bloomington arts commissioners discussed the future of the People’s Park mural.

Three weeks ago, on the day of Juneteenth (June 19)—a celebration marking the emancipation of slaves in the U.S.—the words “BLACK LIVES MATTER” were painted over the top of the existing mural. The Bloomington Arts Commission (BAC) had commissioned artist Eva Allen to paint it in 2017.

The addition to the mural came in the context of of nationwide and local demonstrations, prompted by Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, along with other recent police killings of Black men and women. Floyd was killed on May 25 by Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, when the police officer pinned Floyd down with a knee-on-neck hold.

On Wednesday, Bloomington’s assistant director for the arts, Sean Starowitz, described the layering of the phrase over the top of the existing mural as a “well-intentioned addition the mural, in terms of the color choice and how it was laid out.”

The Wednesday meeting took place in the context of anti-racism demonstrations that took place on each of the previous days, prompted by recent local incidents.

He told BAC members that “repairs” would not be done to the mural, and it will not be “buffed”—which is the technical term for painting over a mural to make the wall blank again. That’s due in part to the fact that the contract with Allen—who painted the “Bloomington” mural—expires at the end of August.

After that, the future of the wall is uncertain, because the mural is part of a public-private partnership that includes the owners of the Bicycle Garage, whose wall is the canvas for the mural.

Right now, it looks like the maximum time the current state of the wall would persist involves a scenario where the owners don’t paint it over, and the BAC administers a public process for hiring an artist who’ll conduct community engagement— something that might take around six months. Continue reading “People’s Park mural will say “BLACK LIVES MATTER” at least through August, maybe a few months longer”

Activist on “BLACK LIVES MATTER” mural overlay: “It’s something we can all dance to.”

Sometime mid-afternoon on Friday a week ago, an anonymous artist, not commissioned by the property owners, drew new letters across the mural in Bloomington’s People’s Park, spelling out the words: “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”

That’s the way the mural will look for at least the next few months, Bloomington city officials have said. And some local activists would like the wall to be preserved as it is. Continue reading “Activist on “BLACK LIVES MATTER” mural overlay: “It’s something we can all dance to.””

BLM Bloomington Facebook forum: Disarm IU police, sell the Bearcat, boycott city farmers market

Last Saturday, members of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) B-town Core Council held a live-streamed Facebook event, under the banner “Black Against the Wall.”

The Facebook forum came the day after an event that was not organized by BLM.

A few thousand people took part in a demonstration that started in Dunn Meadow on Indiana University’s campus and wound up on the courthouse lawn in downtown Bloomington.

BLM’s official statement about the two different events said: “There are many groups in Bloomington working for Black Liberation using a variety of tactics. …Black people are not a monolith, and our differences should be celebrated. We are one community with many different voices that all deserve respect.” Continue reading “BLM Bloomington Facebook forum: Disarm IU police, sell the Bearcat, boycott city farmers market”

Photos: “Enough is Enough”

On Friday, June 5, 2020, a peaceful protest against police brutality, organized by Black student leaders at Indiana University, wound its way from Dunn Meadow westward to the courthouse square. Demonstrators numbered in the thousands. Here’s a mosaic of images from the event, which was promoted with the slogan “Enough is Enough.” (Click on any image to enlarge and start a slideshow through the rest of the images.)

Photos: June 5, 2020