TONIGHT, JULY 14 —
BY SARA TABIN
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.
EARLIER STORY, SATURDAY, JULY 11 —
BY EMILY MIBACH
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).
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