New York Times
His fence is called “Black Lives Matter”. His city says he paints it.
Colorful heart-shaped murals, portraits of local activists, and the word “Black Lives Matter” stand out at the bustling crossroads of West St. Paul, Minnesota, a community surrounded by Twin Cities. It is an important symbol for many black residents and a place of remorse and pride. But the city says it has to go. “I’m completely sad,” said activist Kimeta Johnson on a 75-foot fence. He became the city’s first black mayoral candidate last year. “It’s a great work of art. I need a message here.” When signing up for a morning newsletter from the New York Times West St. Paul, where about 5% of the 20,000 residents are black, the mural is 2 of the city law. You have violated one section (about fences and ban signs) and that particular content has nothing to do with the violation. The mural turmoil occurs at a crucial moment in the Twin Cities region. The Twin Cities region is worried about the decision of Derek Chauvin, a former white Minneapolis police officer charged with the death of a black man, George Floyd. After Floyd’s death, thousands of inhabitants spilled onto the streets of Minneapolis, St. Paul, and West St. Paul, demanding justice every night in reverberant protests across the country. Approximately 200 National Guards are stationed in the area during the Chauvin trial. Witnesses will return to the stand on Monday, the beginning of the third week of testimony. Ryan Wayant, who owns the disputed fence and the house adjacent to it, received a notice from West St. Paul authorities in November informing him that he was violating the city’s signing ordinance. He agreed to keep the murals made of spray paint and acrylic last summer until April 15. But the city refused to extend it after Thursday, leaving a mural saying Weyandt could face a fine of up to $ 2,000 every 10 days. White Weyandt said he asked a local museum if he wanted to preserve the entire fence of the collection. If no one accepts, he will probably paint on top of the mural, and he thinks the result is very disappointing. “I don’t want to withdraw it before the trial is over,” he said. “We want to leave that message,” city spokesperson Dan Nowicki said in an email that authorities received multiple complaints about “non-compliant fences.” In the initial notice to Wayant, the city bans signs “painted, attached, or otherwise affixed to fences, roofs, wood, rocks, or other similar natural surfaces.” Was quoted. “The city understands that this particular fence message is very important to homeowners and many members of our community, but when the city deals with violations of the city code, content and I can’t take the message into account, I don’t. ” The notice received by Weyandt also explained that non-profit signs would be allowed “in any size, number, place, place” during the general election, from 46 days to 10 days after the state primaries. November general election. Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, said such exceptions are common in the Minnesota City Ordinance, allowing people to see almost anything they want. .. “But over time, there is a lot of discretion to establish limits, whether it’s a city or town, or who it is,” she said. Johnson, who passed by Keje in last year’s mayoral election and won about 35% of the votes, said it was a particularly bad time for the city to demand that the murals be painted during Chauvin’s trial. She said she likes to take her seven-year-old granddaughter to the fence for a strong signal to a black girl. “She literally loves to read aloud,” Johnson said. “For her, we see that the city has some pride in her.” Saturday morning, the Vice-Principal of St. Paul’s School, Guillermo Maldonado Perez, and his seven-year-old daughter praised the mural. Was there. He said a petition in support of the painted message was widespread on Facebook, but the request seemed to involve people primarily outside the region. “Hopefully West St. Paul will change the way people are able to express their values and their opinions,” he said, near after Floyd was killed in May. I paid attention to the demonstration on the street. Fence owner Weyandt said he and his husband simply wanted to project the “Black Lives Matter” message as much as possible. They provided the fence as canvas and hired two artists to work on murals in the Twin Cities area. “Our mission was fulfilled when one car stopped at a stop sign, looked at the fence and brought the idea home,” he said. Weyandt said he had previously placed messages and flags on the same fence several times, but this was the first time the city had provided them with a breach notice. One of the flags raised before 2020 declared “coexistence”. This article was originally published in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company