City Removing “Defund the Police” Mural Friday
Message heard "loud and clear" says public works commissioner, but mural creates safety problems.
The block-long “Defund the Police” mural outside Milwaukee City Hall will be removed Friday by the Department of Public Works.
“The message painted on Water Street has been heard loud and clear by policymakers in city government, and the Department of Public Works has no intention to diminish the voices calling for change,” said Commissioner Jeff Polenske in a press release. “Our concern for unauthorized street art including the current mural on Water Street is solely about safety.”
The Common Council is considering a 10 percent reallocation away from the approximately $300 million police department budget.
The mural covers on-street traffic markings, the department said. It runs in a southbound traffic lane from E. Kilbourn Avenue to E. Wells Street with lettering that is approximately 14 feet tall.
The mural, not sanctioned by the city, was organized by artist Jeremy Wilbur and painted July 1st. An anonymous group altered the piece on July 3rd to read “Defend the Police.” It was shortly thereafter altered to again read “Defund.”
The original painters gathered on Sunday to fully restore the piece.
Wilbur told Urban Milwaukee his mural has a primer base and oil paint top layer.
The end of the mural features “BLM” for Black Lives Matter and a large fist, a symbol that has become synonymous with the protest movement. The “O” in “POLICE” also looks different than the other orange or yellow letters, it’s painted to look like a sprinkle-covered donut. “It’s a donut for the police, get it?” said one unnamed spray painter.
A second on-street mural was painted in recent days at the intersection of W. Wisconsin Avenue and N. Old World Third Street It reads “End Systemic Racism.”
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