Black Lives Matter mural vandalized, triggering discourse and vow to repair damage (UPDATED)
Someone in the overnight hours midweek vandalized the giant Black Lives Matter mural on upper Main Street, a politically and racially charged act that triggered three days of public discourse and a vow to repair the damage.
The vandalism occurred in the overnight hours between Tuesday and Wednesday, just days after the mural was created as part of a Park City Summit County Arts Council-managed effort supported by a City Hall grant.
The vandalism involved covering the word “Black” with gray paint as well as covering a clenched fist symbol standing for the letter “I” in the word “Lives.”
The Black Lives Matter mural was one of several painted on the Main Street asphalt last weekend highlighting social-justice issues. One of the others, reading “Peace, Unity, Love,” was also targeted. That mural features a hand wearing a bracelet reading “BLM,” and gray paint was used to cover the “B.” A mural reading “Justicia Para Todos,” Spanish words that translate to “justice for all,” was not targeted.
Park City Mayor Andy Beerman denounced the vandalism in a prepared statement Wednesday afternoon, urging Parkites to “learn and heal through mutual understanding.”
“Bias and systemic racism exist in our community. If we wish to overcome these, we must show courage to look inward, educate ourselves, and hold those around us accountable for their actions, and inaction,” Beerman said in the statement. “Painting over the Main Street murals last night was an act of petty vandalism and now becomes part of Park City’s history. We will use this event to further our community dialogue about social inequities.”
The Park City Police Department is continuing the investigation, but limited progress had apparently been made by Friday. The department said footage from surveillance cameras did not yield leads.
Artists created the murals during pedestrian-only days on Main Street held over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. The artworks, which are temporary, were designed to advance the community’s social equity efforts. The Black Lives Matter mural, 300 feet long and with 14-foot-tall letters, seemed to garner the most attention as it stretched through a high-traffic area toward the southern end of the street.
The mayor and Park City Council addressed the vandalism at a meeting on Thursday, with a majority of the elected officials indicating they want the works repaired. The repairs, it appears, will be undertaken shortly, possibly as early as Sunday. The mayor and City Council also spoke about the outreach efforts prior to the creation of the works after many in the community were surprised when the murals appeared. City Councilor Nann Worel was especially worried about what some saw as the lack of publicity before the murals appeared last weekend.
The elected officials at the meeting also received extensive public input about the murals, read into the record as the City Council continues to hold meetings remotely to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. The input was overwhelmingly in support of the murals. Some of the people who offered input noted the works promote Park City’s values while others said they were saddened with the vandalism. Another person, though, provided input saying Park City should be attractive to any visitor and the person’s family would spend money elsewhere.
City Hall on Friday, meanwhile, hosted an online event that focused on social equity and social justice, inviting artists who created the murals on Main Street to speak alongside the mayor and others. Aljay Fuimaono, the Vineyard artist who created the Black Lives Matter mural that was later vandalized, said during the online event he is receiving support since the vandalism from people he had never met before. Nearly all the input he has received has been positive, he said.
“We’re all in this, the same boat, of, you know, we need that racial equality. We’re trying to fight for that. … Straight to the point, I put Black Lives Matter right on the street,” Fuimaono said.
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Park City Fire District Chief Paul Hewitt died Friday from injuries sustained in an off-duty accident earlier in the week, the agency announced.