Berkeley will paint “Black Lives Matter” on a city street in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after the approval of an emergency item agenda at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Inspired by a street mural in Washington, D.C., the agenda item recommends painting “Black Lives Matter” on Martin Luther King Jr. Way, between Center Street and Allston Way.
“This item would similarly create public art in an iconic location in Berkeley to express support of the Black Lives Matter movement, to honor Berkeley’s own peace demonstrators, and to communicate solidarity with the Mayor of Washington, D.C.,” the agenda reads.
The agenda also proposes that the city paint the words “Ohlone Territory” on Milvia Street, also between Center Street and Allston Way, to recognize the fact that Berkeley is situated on Ohlone territory.
Though the agenda encourages City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley to work with local artists and volunteers, the council discussed allowing community members to participate.
Financial involvement from the city would include the cost of paint, staff time and temporary street closures, according to the item.
“Of course, the Black Student Union believes it is important to have visual commemorative works to honor Black lives,” said the Cal Black Student Union in an email statement. “Most have been beautiful and creative, it’s a step in the right direction. The city must go beyond commemoration though.”
Walk Bike Berkeley committee member Liza Lutzker said the group generally supports the plan but suggested the painting not be on Milvia Street, believing that the street mural could possibly be defaced by future construction.
Lutzker noted that the group also calls for policy change regarding the Berkeley Police Department, in addition to the mural.
Berkeley High School student and protest organizer Isadora De Liberty similarly called for “rapid and effective action” from the city.
Her co-organizer and fellow Berkeley High student Maribel Williams agreed, saying she wants plans to be made to defund the BPD and for those funds to be reallocated to other city resources, such as health centers and school budgets.
City Council unanimously approved the item during the meeting.