Brooklyn got its own Black Lives Matter mural over the weekend — similar to the one painted near the White House in Washington, DC.
Residents and elected officials were led by local artists on Saturday in painting the words along Fulton Street, across the street from Restoration Plaza in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
State Attorney General Letitia James, filmmaker Spike Lee and Reverend Al Sharpton were among those who helped bring the mural to life — Sharpton adding that he would move to rename the block “Black Lives Matter Way.”
The finished piece was showed off on Sunday, during an unveiling at which Councilman Robert Cornegy took it a step further, announcing that he would seek to create a pedestrian plaza, stopping traffic on that portion of Fulton Street.
“I want to keep this closed [as a plaza] forever and ever — [the Department of Transportation] has already agreed,” said the pol, who is one of several City Council members calling for $1.2 billion in cuts to the Police Department that would help fund other programs.
“The movement around the country and the demonstrations have evoked these emotions, so what we wanted to do in Bed-Stuy — which is the last bastion of Black homeownership, Black small business, Black ecumenical power, and Black political power — [is] to have this as a place that we can converge,” Cornegy said, noting the volume of demonstrations that take place nearby at Restoration Plaza.
And so, Cornegy said, area electeds teamed up with the Billie Holiday Theater and its Artistic Director Dr. Indira Etwaroo to make the area a “focal point.”
“We really wanted to begin to change the narrative,” he said, marveling at the community involvement. “While the painting was going on, people were lining the sides and would quietly ask, ‘can we paint,’ and they were given the opportunity to grab a brush and paint. The idea is for communities like this and those across the country to take ownership of their future.”
Twenty Brooklyn artists came together for the project “in the midst of two pandemics,” Dr. Etwaroo said. “The pandemic of COVID-19 and of racial injustice.”
The artistic director said the mural is not art — but rather protest — in a neighborhood that “has historically forged pathways forward for the Black community and Black artists.”
One passerby, 25-year-old LaClaire Robinson, called the creation a “symbol of hope.”
“It might not be a law that’s passed or a new policy or bill, [but] this is something on people’s minds and a reminder of what people have gone through,” Robinson said. “That change really needs to come and it gives hope that change will come and people are looking to make that change.”
A spokesperson for the mayor’s office confirmed in an email to Brooklyn Paper that Fulton Street from Brooklyn to New York avenues will be open to pedestrian-only traffic for the summer.
This story first appeared on AMNY.com