City leaders to discuss proposed Black Lives Matter streetscape mural

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A streetscape mural reading “All Black Lives Matter” could soon be one of the first things people see when walking in and out of the Champaign City Building on Chester Street.

City council members will discuss the proposed project at their Tuesday night meeting and whether or not to move forward with it.

The mural comes at the request of a team of local activists. They started talks with the city for the artwork over the summer.

“We know that painting a streetscape will not bring back Black lives. It will not change the history of racism, but what we will say is this is one step in something that we want to be done,” says activist Justin Hendrix. “Black lives matter. They must matter at all times.”

The “government speech doctrine” states that a “governmental entity” is allowed to express viewpoints of its own and is not obligated to speak in favor of “both sides” of an issue or message.

However, they would have to formally declare “Black Lives Matter” as “City of Champaign government speech” through legal processes in order to paint the mural.

There have been similar Black Lives Matter murals painted across some of the nation’s biggest cities in recent months. However, this one could be tailored to the Champaign-Urbana area with some recognizable symbols such as the Illinois “I.”

Artist Marcus Flinn is part of this project and is heading the artwork design, but if Council approves it, community members will be invited to partake in the painting process.

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