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


“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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