Brooklyn now has its own giant Black Lives Matter mural similar to the one painted near the White House in Washington, DC.
Elected officials led by local artists were joined by residents in painting the words along Fulton Street across the street from Restoration Plaza in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Saturday. They officially unveiled the words on the street on Sunday morning, as Councilman Robert Cornegy further announced he would seek to stop traffic on that portion of Fulton Street and create a pedestrian plaza.
Some of those joining the painting effort were state Attorney General Letitia James, Reverend Al Sharpton, and filmmaker Spike Lee. Sharpton said he would ask the City Council to name the block “Black Lives Matter Way.”
“I want to keep this closed forever and ever, DOT has already agreed — I want this to remain closed as a plaza,” said Cornegy, who is one of several City Council members calling for $1.2 billion in cuts to the NYPD budget to 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, to have this as a place that we can converge,” Cornegy added. “Restoration Plaza is a place where we have had so many demonstrations and protests come, so we got together with the Billie Holiday Theater with Dr. Indira, and really decided that this would be reminiscent of what happened in D.C., to make it really a focal point as we have been a flashpoint for police violence – we really wanted to begin to change the narrative.”
Cornegy marveled 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,” Cornegy said. “The idea is for communities like this and those across the country to take ownership of their future.”
Dr. Indira Etwaroo, executive artistic director of the Billie Holiday Theater at Restoration Plaza, said they brought together 20 artists from throughout Brooklyn, “in the midst of two pandemics – the pandemic of COVID-19 and of racial injustice.”
“This is not art, it is protest by artists in Bed-Stuy that has historically forged pathways forward for the black community and black artists,” Etwaroo said.
LaClaire Robinson, 25, walked down Fulton Street, marveling at the huge letters painted onto the asphalt.
“It’s 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.”