Wisconsin Public Radio

Bus Mural on Immigration Draws Flak

Sup. Sebring calls for removal, first time annual project by art students faces criticism.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Aug 14th, 2019 11:03 am
Get a daily rundown of the top stories on Urban Milwaukee
Every year Milwaukee's Art Museum and public transit system unveil a county bus mural created by Milwaukee students that brings awareness to a controversial issue. But this year's mural depicting ICE raids is drawing criticism. Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum .

Every year Milwaukee’s Art Museum and public transit system unveil a county bus mural created by Milwaukee students that brings awareness to a controversial issue. But this year’s mural depicting ICE raids is drawing criticism. Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum .

Each year since 2003, the Milwaukee Art Museum and Milwaukee County Public Transit System have partnered up to decorate a county bus with a mural designed and created by Milwaukee teenagers. This year’s mural on immigration is the first time the longstanding partnership has drawn criticism.

The mural depicts U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents separating a mother and child. The mural also lists instructions on “What to do if ICE comes to your door” and on the back reads “Celebrating over 160 years of Dreamers: Milwaukee is immigrant strong.”

The 2019 ArtXpress Milwaukee county bus mural will be displayed for a month in a half. The partnership between the Milwaukee Art Museum and public transit system has been ongoing since 2003. Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

The 2019 ArtXpress Milwaukee county bus mural will be displayed for a month in a half. The partnership between the Milwaukee Art Museum and public transit system has been ongoing since 2003. Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

After the county bus was unveiled on Sunday, Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Dan Sebring called for the mural to be removed, saying it sends a racist and anti-law enforcement message. WPR reached out to Sebring but he was not available to comment.

The program — called ArtXpress Milwaukee — was created in 2003 to bring diverse teenagers together to create a meaningful project for themselves and the community. Students work on both the theme and the mural design together. Brigid Globensky, the museum’s senior director of education and programs, said the themes students pick are usually controversial or difficult topics such as racism, homelessness, mental health and gun violence.

Yazmillie Reyez was one of the 18 students who worked on the project and she says the group wanted to start a conversation on a serious topic.

“It’s not something that we put there for them to be against the police. We didn’t put that there to be against law enforcement” Reyez explained. “We put that because those are the rights that were created.”

A representative from the Milwaukee County Public Transit System said the mural didn’t violate any of their advertisement guidelines. The transit system looks to keep nudity, graphic violence and alcohol consumption out of advertisements.

Globensky said this is the first time they’ve been asked to remove a mural.

“Art really creates conversation. Obviously this group did an amazing job to really raise this issues in a way that has gotten people talking,” she said.

The mural will be on a county bus for a month in a half and will be on different transit routes throughout the city.

Listen to the WPR report here.

Mural On Milwaukee Bus Depicting ICE Raid Draws Criticism was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

More about the MCTS ICE Mural Controversy

3 thoughts on “Bus Mural on Immigration Draws Flak”

  1. Joyce Ellwanger says:

    What a fear filled time to be an immigrant or refugee in our country these days whether legal or undocumented. I applaud the effort to bring this to the attention of the public and to provide information about rights.

    People of faith and justice regularly give public witness at the ICE office challenging current abusive policies and practices. The arts often also lead the way in educating us on issues that need our awareness and attention and action.

    Thank you for this collaboration to do just that.

  2. mkwagner says:

    I wonder what Sebring’s definition of racist is. I am more incline to believe that he used the term instead of “politically correct” i.e. in keeping with the position of the Trump administration.

    Here is something else to consider, when law enforcement officers are commanded to do things that conflict with their moral and ethical values — their moral compass — that traumatizes them. Some have the strength to quit causing high turnover rates; others try to divorce what they are commanded to do from their moral compass. This results in stress-related illnesses (heart conditions, strokes even cancer) and sometimes death by suicide. Those officers remaining are individuals without a moral compass, like the vicious SS officers who took pleasure in torturing and killing Jews in Nazi Germany.

    If we are truly to support our law enforcement officers we must demand a stop to the inhumane treatment of other human beings. Law enforcement officers deserve to work in humane conditions, conditions that do not demand they commit acts that conflict with their moral compass.

  3. TransitRider says:

    It’s interesting that right-wingers insist on “conscience” provisions for pharmacists, doctors, etc, when it comes to contraception and abortion, but are silent on allowing cops the ability to opt out of immigration law enforcement.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us