Every day she chalks ‘Black Lives Matter’ in a bike lane, and every day someone erases it

Chalk on NW 2nd Avenue bike lane in Old Town.
(Photos: Maria Cahill)

Maria Cahill has taken her fight against racism to a bike lane in Old Town. As an organizer with Irene’s Circle, a nonprofit that supports families impacted by police violence and hate crimes, it’s just one of the ways she exercises her commitment to justice.

Every day for nearly a month now, Cahill has chalked a message into the protected bike lane on NW 2nd Avenue right outside the Japanese American History Museum. Sometimes she’ll write, “All lives will matter when Black Lives Matter” and other times simply, “Black Lives Matter.”

Portlander John Russell leads free walking tours in downtown Portland. He has seen the chalked message many times — and he’s also noticed that it gets washed away each time. “Who cleans it off each day?” he wrote in a Facebook post yesterday. “A white guy who works for Portland’s Downtown Clean and Safe crew goes out of his way to clean it off. He doesn’t bother with other chalk in the neighborhood. Just this one.”

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