After Temporary Delay, City Of Tulsa Announces It Will Erase 'Black Lives Matter' Street Painting

Aug 3, 2020

The city of Tulsa announced Monday that it intends to follow through on its plans to remove the Black Lives Matter painting on the roadway of North Greenwood Avenue

The unauthorized street painting, completed in the lead-up to Juneteenth and President Trump's visit to Tulsa, was a subject of discussion at a Tulsa City Council committee meeting last week, where it was  concluded it would be removed due to not having a city-issued permit, and potentially opening the doors to legally having to allow any other painted messages.

But after outcry and a demonstration, the city of Tulsa momentarily backed down, announcing a delay in the removal process.

On Monday afternoon, a statement from City Hall said that the original decision stands: the mural will be erased.

"In order to allow for a process that properly engaged impacted business and property owners, the City of Tulsa temporarily suspended the removal of paint on Greenwood Avenue today so those discussions could occur. The property owner indicated they do not want the mural to remain. The merchant and tenant association indicated they do not want the mural to remain," the statement reads. (An inquiry to City Hall as to who exactly was consulted was not immediately returned.)

"Utilization of any city street as a public forum would open every city street in town - both main streets and neighborhood streets - to similar use. Following the City Council’s determination last week not to issue a permit and the conclusion of stakeholder discussions today, the City will now proceed with removal of the mural when such action can be scheduled," the statement concludes.

Activist and mayoral candidate Greg Robinson said he disagreed with the decision, and noted that arguments based on legal statutes have a long history of being used in racist ways in America.

"The laws in this country, for way too long, were created in a way to keep Black people oppressed, to allow for the systemic killing of Black people and for the oppression that Black Lives Matter is truly standing against," Robinson said.

Tykebrean Cheshier, organizer of some of Tulsa's largest Black Lives Matter demonstrations since the police killing of George Floyd in May, said Monday she had been heartened by the mural. 

"When the the mural went up in June it was magical and beautiful to see," Cheshier said. "Seeing them want to take it down due to other groups wanting to put theirs up is upsetting to me. We need to take care of North Tulsa with or without the mural."