UPDATE: Los Altos council puts off Black Lives Matter street mural vote

City workers painted a Black Lives Matter mural on Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower in New York City. AP photo.


Daily Post Staff Writer

Los Altos City Council tonight postponed voting on whether to spend $15,000 in city funds to put a Black Lives Matter mural on Main Street after residents complained that the proposal hadn’t gone before the city’s Public Arts Commission.

The Justice Vanguard Foundation asked for $15,000 to paint Black Lives Matter on Main Street from Starbucks at Second Street to Satura Cakes at Third Street.

It would be similar to street murals in Palo Alto, Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., New York and other cities.

Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins read a statement from the Justice Vanguard Foundation at the start of the meeting requesting that the council pull the item so the project can go before the Public Arts Commission.

“We would like to clarify our proposal was initially sent to Public Arts Commission with the intent of being passed through the proper channels,” said the statement. “It was not until recently that we were made aware of the neglect to do so, resulting in understandable anger from the public at the city government’s lack of due process.”

Ironically, the Justice Vanguard Foundation’s statement was read by Bruins, who was the focus of a racial controversy in May and June. At a May 20 council meeting, Bruins used the phrase “you are out of your cotton-picking mind” toward Councilwoman Neysa Fligor, who is black. More than 2,000 people signed an online petition asking Bruins to apologize, which she did on June 4. Fligor said she accepted the apology and didn’t believe Bruins was hateful or racist.

Tonight, Councilwoman Anita Enander asked City Attorney Jolie Houston what the proper protocol is for the city to approve the street mural.

Enander said questions have been raised about whether city policy should allow for political speech to become art on a public street.

Houston said the proposal should be reviewed by the art commission, where residents can speak at a public hearing before the project comes to council. She said she is reviewing the project and will have recommendations.

It was not clear why the project skipped the commission to begin with.

The Los Altos mural request comes after a group of muralists completed a Black Lives Matter mural on Hamilton Avenue in front of Palo Alto City Hall. That mural has come under fire because one of the muralists painted the likeness of Assata Shakur, who was convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper in the 1970s. Shakur escaped prison and is believed to live in Cuba.


Daily Post Staff Writer

A group of students, teachers and residents of the Mountain View Los Altos High School District want to paint a Black Lives Matter mural downtown in Los Altos.

The Los Altos Council will vote Tuesday on whether to give the Justice Vanguard Foundation $15,000 to paint Black Lives Matter on Main Street spanning from Starbucks at Second Street to Satura Cakes at Third Street.

“Los Altos is roughly 64% white. Remaining demographics include roughly 30% Asians, 5.19% biracial, and 0.36% African-American. Thus, there are about 111 African-American residents of Los Altos, all of whom deserve to know that the city stands as their unequivocal ally when it comes to demanding equality,” the group, which is represented by Los Altos residents Kenan Moos and Ella Maluf, wrote in its proposal to Los Altos officials.

City Manager Chris Jordan is recommending that the council approve spending the $15,000 but also appoint a committee consisting of two members of the city’s Public Arts Commission and two city employees to work with the group to “review the artists’ proposals.”

This request comes after a group of muralists completed a Black Lives Matter mural on Hamilton Avenue in front of Palo Alto City Hall. That mural has come under fire because one of the muralists painted the likeness of Assata Shakur, who was convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper in the 1970s. Shakur escaped prison and is believed to live in Cuba.

This week, a national police supporters group started a petition asking Palo Alto officials to remove Shakur’s image from the mural. City spokeswoman Meghan Horrigan-Taylor told the Post on Thursday that the city has no intention of expediting the removal of the mural.

The group says it will spend the $15,000 on primer paint, painter’s tape and a protective coating. The group also asked that the restaurants that are using the street for outdoor dining remove the tables on July 23 and July 24 so the mural can be completed.

Council will discuss the mural at 7 p.m. on Tuesday (July 14).

To watch or participate in the meeting, go to webinar.ringcentral.com/j/1486096972. People can also listen in by calling (650) 242-4929 and using meeting ID 148-609-6972. Written comments can be sent to [email protected], or those wishing to comment on an agenda item can text their name and what item they want to talk about to (650) 823-6911.


  1. 48 police officers were shot and killed last year. Where’s their memorial? And why do I have to pay taxes to fund this political message? Somebody should sue the council members over this, hold them personally liable.

  2. Will the city let me make a street mural too? My message is “SUPPORT THE POLICE”

    I want this message on Main St too and i want the city to spend $15,000 to paint it!

    Any objections?

  3. I wish somebody on City Council would have the courage to tell the Justice Vanguard Foundation, “NO, the city doesn’t fund political messages”! Everyone is forced to pay taxes to the City, but their money shouldn’t be used to paint political messages on the street. Black Lives Matter is a political movement, plain and simple. Don’t try to pretend it’s a human rights movement. It’s attempting to change laws using politics. That’s political. And if anybody stands up to them, the threaten to have them fired or their businesses crushed. So they intimidate anyone else who wishes to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech. To them, the only free speech they support is free speech they agree with. The council needs to say that they wouldn’t approve this political message any more than if they were asked to paint a street saying “Vote for Joe Biden” or “Vote for Donald Trump”. City Council, don’t use city money to promote a political message. Many of your constituents wouldn’t approve of their hard-earned money being used to promote a message they don’t agree with.

  4. I grew up in Los Altos. When I attended LAHS, I was one of the three black students and the only one who also lived in Los Altos. It’s disheartening to see the ignorance in these comments, but I can’t say it’s surprising. I think it would be a sweet gesture, but ultimately may just be doing more harm than good. As you can already see here, it’ll inflame the racists.

  5. I’m not surprised that all the racists of Los Altos came out of the woods when this proposal was made public. Before I moved to Los Altos I was told by those living in neighboring cities that Los Altos had a reputation of been backward and close-minded. This is an opportunity for our leaders to show that this is not true and our community not only welcome people of all colors, but will back up anyone who experiences racism in our city. Or…our city can show that we are indeed the backward and close-minded people that others think of us.

  6. Let’s send the $15,000 costs of painting Main St. in Los Altos to Chicago, where during the July 4th holiday 70 folks were shot and 17 were killed, including children–by their own community members. They need help over there, and the place to start is to provide basic needs, jobs, and education for the folks in the middle of these Chicago massacres.

  7. If the city says it’s OK to paint a political slogan on a city street, and the city will pay for the paint, then I’ve got a few slogans I want painted on downtown streets:

    “Defund Planned Parenthood”

    “More Guns, Less Crime”

    “America First”

    “Shut up and Drink”

    “Adios Pelota”

  8. Why is NO ONE going to great lengths to explain to the public the difference between the sweet-sounding words “black lives matter” and the revolutionary marxist anti-american agenda of the organization who brilliantly chose that name and are bring endorsed and empowered by well- meaning naivité. Could we just say “black lives are important”, or “black lives are precious”? (Preferably verbally and in newsprint and online and in art…including legally permitted murals)

  9. I would like to go on notice about my feelings on the proposed Black Lives Matter mural to be painted on our main public town roadway.

    I really think this is a case of the tail wagging the dog. A small number of Los Altos citizens want the rest of the community to go along with this idea that we should paint our Main Street to promote some radical political movement. I believe this is serious business. The City is being pushed into this without doing the proper due diligence. Shouldn’t we make sure the whole of the community supports defacing our street for some Marxist ideology?

    No one denies, even the BLM organizers, that they are a Marxist organization with very radical ideas. Do you really want to support such an organization that would call for defunding our police, prisons, and military? You can’t be serious. You must not follow the herd, that of being politically correct, that has chosen without thoroughly thinking it through. Don’t be pushed by the politically correct mob into making an incorrect decision.

    Since when is the City paying for political art? You can’t deny that this BLM Mural effort is not politically charged and motivated by a small group of people that for their own reasons support a political organization. And also, it looks like by putting two people from the public Arts Commission to look at what the artist comes up with justifies it as public art. This does not fly with me. And tell me why, out of the blue, is the City Manager recommending that the City use my money to pay for a political message in the middle of my street without my agreement?

    I’ve lived in Los Altos for over 40 years and have not seen one bit of racism. I for one don’t want to be reminded every time I walk in our town that people think I’m a racist because I’m not black. I believe that all lives matter and I mean all lives. Would you deny that black, Asian, Hispanic or Irish lives are any less important than any other lives?

    This proposed BLM Mural flies directly in the face of our great American police officers. They must now drive by this mural regularly and wonder if their lives matter at all. Do you think that will help maintain police morale?

    Should we want to decorate our town with a meaningful mural why not pay for a really positive message. Let’s paint our street with a Blue Lives Matter mural. The Police aren’t political. They come to our rescue no matter our race. Let’s celebrate something really worthwhile that everyone in our community can get behind.

    Please do not vote to put this politically radical, Marxist message on our public streets.

  10. How about a message that’s more inclusive. Latinos matter, too. Why would the city discriminate against us? Asian lives matter. So do Italians and Germans. Jewish Holocaust survivors. This BLM message is so biased in favor of one group.

  11. Let’s get real for a minute. Council didn’t want to touch this mural request with a 10-foot pole. Not after the Jeannie Bruins racial comment controversy last month. So they kicked it to the arts commission, which has a rule specifically saying it can’t approve any political art. So the art commission will have to say “no” to the Black Lives Mural. If that decision is appealed, and I would expect somebody will appeal it, then council can simply say they don’t want to overturn the work of their art commission. They’ll say something like, “Oh, we’d love to pay tribute to the blacks who were killed by cops, but our rules simply don’t allow something like that. Sorry. You might try Mountain View or Sunnyvale. Goodbye.”

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