Tulsa City Council Recommends 'Black Lives Matter' Painting Stay Until Street Work Tears It Up

Sep 2, 2020

The words 'BLACK LIVES MATTER' were painted on North Greenwood Avenue the night before Juneteenth, 2020.
Credit Chris Polansky / KWGS News

The Tulsa City Council recommended Wednesday the Black Lives Matter mural on Greenwood Avenue stay — for now.

Councilors approved a recommendation to Mayor G.T. Bynum saying the $20,000 it will take to remove the street painting is wasteful when a street resurfacing project is in the works. The mural is in City Councilor Kara Joy McKee’s district.

"This compromise doesn’t make everyone happy. I know activists on both sides of the argument may be frustrated with it, but this is government. Here we are trying to make the compromise that makes things work out for the best," McKee said.

The council’s recommendation also acknowledges street painting is illegal and may only be permitted by the city.

Mill and overlay work is slated for Greenwood after the new year, but some councilors would like to see the project moved up to next month.

"People are just growing weary of continuing to have the words on the road. So, to the greatest extent possible, if we can work with our private sector to have that replacement done in a very expeditious way so that we can move forward with the mill and overlay," said Councilor Phil Lakin.

The council has no control over when projects are done.

McKee tried to amend the recommendation Wednesday evening to reference when the street work was originally scheduled.

"This isn’t something that we’re doing with anything else that is bothering people in Tulsa. And what this does by expediting this is it does bring attention to us as the first city to remove this mural," McKee said.

McKee is looking for a private entity that can somehow preserve the Black Lives Matter painting.