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Commissioner Eudaly plans large-scale ‘Black Lives Matter’ street art

Posted by on June 5th, 2020 at 9:20 pm

“Commissioner Eudaly and PBOT want to show support for Black Portlanders, for the Black Lives Matter movement, and for the protestors calling for justice.”
— Margaux Weeke, Communications Director for Commissioner Eudaly

In a move that was seen as a provocation to President Donald Trump, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser painted “Black Lives Matter” across several blocks of street today. The massive, 30-foot high yellow letters are just a stone’s-throw from the White House. Bowser and Trump have been in a stand-off over several issues related to widespread racial justice and police brutality protests — especially the presence of federal armed troops in her city.

Now, as Portlanders hit the streets for the eighth straight day of protests, City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly wants to do the same.

“Commissioner Eudaly and PBOT [Portland Bureau of Transportation] staff were inspired by Mayor Bowser and the District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) use of the right-of-way to create the “Black Lives Matter Plaza” and the “Black Lives Matter” street art in Washington D.C.,” Eudaly’s Communications Director Margaux Weeke shared with BikePortland this evening.

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Weeke says the Commissioner and Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) are working to determine where and how to deploy similar street art.

“Both Commissioner Eudaly and PBOT want to show support for Black Portlanders, for the Black Lives Matter movement, for the protestors calling for justice, and we want this to be a community-led approach,” Weeke continued. “PBOT is currently finalizing language and potential locations with community partners, and we hope to put paint down on the next rain-free day.”

Mayor Ted Wheeler is supportive of the move and his office will help with the installation. In addition to the street art, the plan will likely include special street sign “toppers” and other community art to further designate the blocks.

Portland has a long history of painting intersections. PBOT uses the paintings as a way to bring neighbors together. Large-scale street paintings are a common method of tactical urbanism.

In D.C., the move has been heralded by many, but local Black Lives Matter leaders said on Twitter, “This is a performative distraction from real policy changes.”

Eudaly has been outspoken in her support for Black Lives Matter protestors. This week she condemned the use of tear gas on protestors, saying it’s “sadistic” and should be banned. In a statement released today, Eudaly listed a range of actions she will be working on including: disbanding the transit police and declaring racism a public health and safety emergency.

UPDATE, 6/15: What we expected to happen the week of June 8th, is now on pause. Asked for an update, PBOT Communications Director John Brady said,

“We are currently having conversations with Black Portland community leaders about the creation of community-led art in partnership with Black Portland artists. We will follow the lead of our Black community partners and will share more information when plans have been finalized with the community.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Zach
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Zach

Wherever it is, our plaza needs to be car-free. It’d be disgraceful to allow cars to drive over a message like this.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
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Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)

Alberta or Mississippi plazas!

Roger Averbeck
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Roger Averbeck

How about 3rd Ave between Madison and Main?

rafa
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rafa

Burnside bridge. It’s the geographic center of Portland. The ordinate and abscissa of our quadrants. On a satellite image, it will read left to right, unobstructed. Many protests (critical mass to BLM) have crossed this bridge in defiance uniting our brothers and sisters on both sides of the Willamette River.

GlowBoy
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GlowBoy

The DC move has been criticized by some as mere symbolism. I think symbolism is helpful as long as it doesn’t reduce our resolve for real change. In Minneapolis we are probably going to rename Chicago Avenue to George Floyd Avenue, for example. If that’s all we did such a move might be counterproductive; but as long as we also keep pushing for systemic criminal justice reform I don’t think these are mere token gestures.

Middle of the Road Guy
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Middle of the Road Guy

It’s ironic she’ll be running against a Black man.

Kana O.
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Kana O.

Don’t tell us Black lives matter. Show us.

We need more than virtue signaling at a municipal scale. And having this come from (what is perceived as) the same organization (the city, government) that is violently repressing protests and has a history of discriminatory police violence without reforming that part of the organization can most charitably be described as inconsistent and confusing.

The commissioner saw her neighbor put up a BLM yard sign and get lots of attention and now she wants one, too. Who is this message for? Black people cant walk down a street in neighborhoods that used to be theirs without seeing one of these signs. The presence of these signs hasn’t changed their reality much.

Get to work. We know our lives matter to us. We need to be shown they matter to you.

Itgoesbothways
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Itgoesbothways

Hey Maus! Didn’t you say you don’t see color when you got knocked for being racist?

Did you see that white guy on a bike who went after teenagers? Bet you won’t cover that.

Erin
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Erin

For those shouting out suggestions, I know you’re well meaning, but let’s hope PBOT is consulting with black Portlanders to understand the location that would be the most meaningful to them (and make sure it’s something black community leaders want and support–which it probably is, but still good to be sure!)

X
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X

Acts of courage from women, individuals confronting a bullying spouse or a national government that controls the purse strings of a federal district, are valuable.

Just as I can appreciate Melania defying the message coming from the West Wing, and Muriel Bowser sending the National Guard packing, I’m happy to hear that Portland city government is not in monolithic support of destroying the first amendment. Eudaly may not have done enough, who has? However she may be signalling which way her votes will go.

It takes bravery to go against the grain, and very many men in our government have swallowed their conscience, kept their reservations off mic and played along.

BobSteets
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BobSteets

Desperate political move from a very inept commissioner.

Mariah
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Mariah

How can I volunteer to help paint once the location is decided? I’d love to help make this a reality.

Steve Scarich
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Steve Scarich

I’ll make the only cycling related comment in this thread. What happens when street paint gets wet? Does it become a hazard to cyclists, or does anyone care?

RudiV
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RudiV

Even more derivative than “Keep Portland Weird”. Put it on the Vista Bridge.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

This is a performative distraction from real policy changes

The BLM comment is spot on. Too many Portland protesters make things about themselves rather than what the protest is supposed to be about. This not only doesn’t help, but it outright prevents progress.

Performance art aside, we shouldn’t be thinking of cyclists or the role of cycling in protests. That also takes the focus away from real injustice and the people suffering them.

Ultimately, protests accomplish nothing — the whole premise is that people yell and someone else is supposed to fix things. The George Floyd situation is special in that it’s way more than a normal protest, but anyone who thinks that marching around with signs and painting some streets change anything is kidding themselves.

Real change comes from hard, thankless, and mostly invisible work. Be an expert in something and do everything in the background to bring justice there. Help others do the same. Vote. And don’t waste too much time on symbolic gestures that may be visible, but ultimately don’t do anything.

rick
Guest
rick

Why not spend that money on something like repaving streets and adding more street trees? From 1994 to about 2015, Portland gave $55,000,000 to the Regional Arts & Culture Council. Just check the Oregonlive article.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

I assume that everyone realizes that the only ones who actually ‘view’ these graffiti are photographers and those who see their images. You cannot view it from ground level, and you cannot view it from a car. It is all about getting the media to take pictures and upload them. It is essentially a glorified form of clickbait.