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City of Phoenix denies Black Lives Matter mural request in downtown area

Posted at 7:25 AM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-14 20:47:15-04

PHOENIX — The City of Phoenix has decided not to move forward with a proposed "Black Lives Matter" mural in the downtown area.

According to a letter Wednesday from City Manager Ed Zuercher, the decision was made due to "existing regulations governing allowable markings in the street, as well as overriding concerns with safety, risks, and federal guidelines."

The note also says that murals and other non-standard markings are not allowed on city streets.

"Based on what we have for authorized traffic markings in our city streets, [a] street mural does not comply with those federal guidelines,” said Kini Knudson, Director of Street Transportation in Phoenix. Knudson added that a street mural in the middle of the road could cause traffic issues, affecting motorist safety.

"We want to make sure that whoever is using the roadways, drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians, see things out in the roadway that they are expecting," he said.

The mural was proposed to be painted near the Talking Stick Resort Arena, located near Central Avenue and Jefferson Street.

On Monday, Gizette Knight, the organizer behind the 'Black Lives Matter' mural, addressed the media in front of Phoenix City Hall claiming that from her communications with the Streets and Transportation Department made her believe the mural project would be completed.

"We were told this was going to happen. Not that this can’t happen or maybe this will happen. That this will happen," said Knight.

In a statement to ABC15, the Phoenix Streets and Transportation said "At no time during their meetings did the Street Transportation Department, including Director Kini Knudson, indicate that the “mural would happen.” Just as was the process with the Non-Standard Crosswalk Marking Program, a program to install street murals would need to be approved by City Council."

Knight said she is still pursuing the mural.

"'Black Lives Matter' painted on the streets is a step forward. It is not the answer to uprooting inequality," said Knight. "We have to build on those words, paint our streets."