Guest Commentary: Phoenix Coalition Sorry BLM Removed from Second Street (Updated at 8:15 am)

Share:

By the Phoenix Coalition Board

The Davis Phoenix Coalition would like to thank all the volunteers who came out and helped spray Black Lives Matter on 2nd Street. Our beautiful rainbow street mural brought visibility, pride and a sense of belonging to the marginalized in our community.

The rainbow colors were a clear representation of the intersectionality of our work for all people affected by injustice and the allies that support us in the work towards a place where everyone is safe, respected and free from violence. After the killing of George Floyd, our community along with the rest of the Nation, voiced outrage over the clear inhumanity blatantly displayed by the police officers in this incident.

This incident coming on the heels of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of vigilantes fanned the smoldering flames of the Black Lives Matter movement into an inferno.

The Black Lives Matter movement continues the work of the civil rights movement of the 60s by declaring on their website  “Every day, we recommit to healing ourselves and each other, and to co-creating alongside comrades, allies, and family a culture where each person feels seen, heard, and supported. We acknowledge, respect, and celebrate differences and commonalities. We work vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people.”

The Black Lives Matter organization was founded after the killing of Trayvon Martin and really took off after the killing of Michael Brown.  Its work to call out anti-blackness and the systems that perpetuate it, has become firmly established not only nationally but internationally as well. It has ushered in and brought into the consciousness of the mainstream the idea that we must reevaluate and challenge the idea that institutions even as exalted as policing and education can contain prejudice and injustice.

It is common for conflict to arise when ideas surface that change the landscape of long held truths. Sixty years ago the peace symbol was associated with the counterculture and the demise of American values. People are defensive when confronted with a symbol that threatens to change the balance power.

So it is not surprising that, as much as people can agree with the core principles of Black Lives Matter, it can elicit strong reactions of defensiveness and fear.  This often leads to divisiveness. Our Street Mural in Davis was not immune to these reactions.

The City quickly received requests to place alternate messaging on the street. Because of the way we were given permission, the City would have had to allow other messages to be displayed and this could have quickly gotten out of hand and caused possible traffic problems.

The decision was thus made by the City to have the BLM street mural power washed and examine the policy around civic speech. The good news is that this has prompted the City to consider installing art that honors our black community.

We are pleased that we involved more than just the volunteers that came out that early morning to install it. We ignited the community in conversation, brought a sense of visibility, pride and belonging to our marginalized community members and paved a path for placing art by/for our black community in the forefront.

We truly appreciate all the work everyone did to make this possible. As always, we are deeply humbled and proud of our community and their level of commitment and work towards social justice.


Response by Police Chief Darren Pytel:

Black Lives Matter was being painted on streets across the Country and the Davis Phoenix Coalition wanted to do the same here, as they expressed in their letter. A few City staff members that normally approve requests for temporary art approved the request believing that it would be fairly temporary and, because it was the exact same message that was being painted on streets across the Country, it would be ok.

There wasn’t a realization at the time that when you approve one form of art (message) that you may end up having to approve counter messages or ones that few people may want to see or agree with.

They used chalk paint, instead of regular paint, which could be easily removed. Second Street was already closed off by the City because of Open Air Davis so no additional permit was needed to close the street.

Because of this they didn’t need to go through the normal permitting process which is where additional staff are normally involved in the decision making process and typically deliberate the finer details regarding requests like this, especially where art transitions to speech and the issue of our streets being used a public forum are further contemplated.

We’ve worked through this internally and have already come up with a process where the Civics Art Commission can approve art projects in other public areas

To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice – https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9


Share:

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

Related posts

25 thoughts on “Guest Commentary: Phoenix Coalition Sorry BLM Removed from Second Street (Updated at 8:15 am)”

  1. Keith Olsen

    The City quickly received requests to place alternate messaging on the street. Because of the way we were given permission, the City would have had to allow other messages to be displayed and this could have quickly gotten out of hand and caused possible traffic problems.

    I never really understood how the BLM sign was allowed to be painted on a Davis street.  There was no public input and never did I hear any discussion from the city or the council members regarding its installation.  So now in order to stop others from installing their “art” the city is removing the BLM “art”.  What, wasn’t the political “art” of others also acceptable?

    1. Keith Olsen

      Because of the way we were given permission, the City would have had to allow other messages to be displayed 

      Why because of the way they were given permission?  What was the process, was the process the way things are normally done?  Were strings pulled or the rules skirted?  Enquiring minds want to know.

      1. David Greenwald

        In other words, they got permission to put it up and because of that, if they let one group put up public art, they had to let anyone do so.

    2. David Greenwald

      Basically there is public art all over town. The only time I have ever seen a public process is for the actual appropriation of funds. Putting up public art has otherwise been deemed administrative.

      1. Keith Olsen

        Because we know the Vanguard would most likely be investigating and looking into the process of why a Blue Lives Matter or an All Lives Matter sign was painted down the middle of a Davis street.

  2. Ron Glick

    The city ought to let the BLM art stay up, and, allow the other art to go up too, as long the names of the artists are disclosed.

    I mean wouldn’t you like to know who is hanging nooses at the high school, painting swastikas in the Richards underpass and distributing anti-Semitic leaflets around town? Davis has a long history of racist art in public spaces. Its high time these artists have the courage of their convictions and display their artwork publicly for all to see what they believe and who they are. Go ahead put up your hateful art but do it in broad daylight.

    1. Alan Miller

      mean wouldn’t you like to know who is hanging nooses at the high school, painting swastikas in the Richards underpass and distributing anti-Semitic leaflets around town?

      Three examples of public art if I ever heard it.  The artists should be so proud.  I wonder why they instead cowered in cowardly anonymity like a KKK member behind a white hood, or an Antifa member behind a black mask?

  3. Alan Miller

    Sixty years ago the peace symbol was associated with the counterculture and the demise of American values.  People are defensive when confronted with a symbol that threatens to change the balance power.

    The above is true, but there is a HUGE difference here.   The peace symbol was literally a symbol.  “Black Lives Matter” is a sentiment, not a symbol, and, more importantly, it is also an organization that takes in donations and has a political agenda.

    The City quickly received requests to place alternate messaging on the street. Because of the way we were given permission, the City would have had to allow other messages to be displayed and this could have quickly gotten out of hand

    Yeah, it’s called free speech.  We seem to be learning about it in a serious way these days, because some loud political forces want not only for their voices to be heard (which is great! . . . and needed.), but also for the opposing voices to be shut down (which is horrifying! . . . and unconstitutional).  Thankfully, Davis seems to be running under the US constitution as of today, unlike some cities.

    So yes, let’s make it a point to get the message out there and emphasize art that contains a message of today and celebrates a people.  And, anyone else may be heard, no matter how vile someone else may find their expression.  It’s WAY better that way.

     

    1. Alan Miller

      Perhaps, the Black Lives Matter movement, to distinguish itself from the organization, needs to come up with a symbol, like The Artist Formerly Known as Prince did, and change the name of the movement and sentiment to “The Movement and Sentiment Formerly Known as Black Lives Matter”.

      1. David Greenwald

        I do think that people overall – read white people – misunderstand what Black Lives Matter means. The problem was that throughout history Black lives were undervalued by government, citizens and the policy. And that hasn’t changed enough and so by saying Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean that other lives don’t matter, it’s simply focused on the need to value the lives of those underprivileged. This point matters here because we’ve seen a clumsy handling of a delicate issue by the city on this.

        1. Bill Marshall

          And, I think many in the BLM movement don’t have any clue as to many (if not 50%+) whites understanding/concern/empathy… you certainly want to pigeon-hole all whites (excepting of course, yourself), as to either being racist, or having implicit racial/ethnic bias…

          The BLM movement came from serious mis-use of authority/force by police, and many of the worst, by folk who are clearly racist/biased… many whites ‘get’ that and abhor it and want to get rid of it as much as possible, as soon as possible… police/authority misconduct falls on all, independent of race… but, if I say that, I’m racist or biased, right?  You’ve made it clear, that saying, “%## Lives matter, is at least biased/not understanding, probably racist, and maybe even ‘supremicist’ and or ‘privileged’ … whatever…

          My conscience is clear on racial/ethnic issues… sorry that yours appears not to be, and you lay it on to others…

           

  4. Bill Marshall

    Sixty years ago the peace symbol was associated with the counterculture and the demise of American values.

    Then, there were two symbols associated with ‘peace’, and both were co-opted… much like language/words are today…

    One was the forefinger and middle finger poised in a v-shape… that originated in England, 80 years ago, and was originally meant as “victory”, as in military victory, over those who would conquer them… no matter what the price in lives… not ‘peaceful’…

    The other was what conservative, militaristic folk called ‘footprint of an American chicken’… the most common symbol… co-opted by the ‘peace folk’, from a symbol derived by scientists, specifically opposed to the use of nuclear weapons… that symbol is truly (and originally) meant, to urge ‘nuclear disarmament’… it is a combination of the semaphore (signaling) letters “N” and “D”… duh!  Those who developed the symbol were adamant about  “no nukes”, but not ‘peace’, per se…

    Today’s history and symbology lesson…

     

    1. Alan Miller

      My understanding is that the peace symbol is V with the palm facing forward, while V for Victory is the back of the hand facing forward.  I didn’t google it, but that’s what I was told fifty years ago when I made a peace symbol as a kid and was told I had it backwards.

      1. Bill Marshall

        Not sure… may have to sit corrected… but never heard of that nuance… not worth disputing…

        Doesn’t matter to me… with dupytrens, can’t physically do either…

      2. Bill Marshall

        Alan… you reminded me of another nuance… in Europe, you extend your right hand to greet someone… showing you have no weapon, a sign of no hostility… in many African cultures, they extended the left hand… to show they had no worries, as their ‘shield hand’ was extended… a sign of trust.

        In some cultures, NEVER extend you left hand to greet… as that is generally the hand you use to… hence, ‘unclean’…

        Something as innocuous as a handshake in greeting, has many nuances… under the pandemic, have no clue as to elbow bumps…

        And, some folk don’t have a given hand… another nuance…

         

      3. Ron Glick

        This was covered in Darkest Hour, the movie about Churchill. In the movie Chuechill was informed that the back of the hand V was an obscenity like giving someone the finger or flicking your finger from your tooth. In the movie Churchill was supposedly unaware. I don’t believe it.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for