New Jersey paints over Black Lives Matter mural to remove political statement

New Jersey Turnpike Authority orders whole mural to be removed after complaints

Justin Vallejo
New York
Thursday 29 July 2021 22:44
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New Jersey paints over Black Lives Matter mural to remove political statement

A mural to Black Lives Matter was painted over in New Jersey after officials objected to the political message of a raised fist.

Local artist May Yuasa, 19, was first told to redesign her "Use Your Voice" mural in the city of Clifton before a section was painted over.

She told ABC 7 News the originally approved design was a collection of raised fists before she painted the first one, which was subsequently removed.

"I was called into a meeting with the city manager and he asked me to alter the design because he received some complaints and threats," Ms Yuasa said.

Despite the fist being painted over, the entire remaining mural will also be removed after an order from the state’s transit authority.

BLM mural painted over in New Jersey

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority ordered Clifton to take down the mural after receiving several complaints from residents, state spokesman Tom Feeney told NJ Advance Media.

He said that was the first they saw of the mural, which looked lovely and had no objectionable material, but was not permitted on Turnpike Authority property.

“Our decision is completely independent of content,” Mr Feeney told the outlet. “We just don’t let people paint murals on our bridges.”

Clifton City Manager Dominick Villano, who had approved the original design, told NJ Advance he is waiting for the removal order in writing before painting over the entire artwork.

“The children should have a voice in this community. Let’s find somewhere else where they can send their message,” Mr Villano said.

He told Daily Voice that the artist was asked to remove any political statement from the mural and that she was to change the fist to a "peace sign" or something similar.

“The artist changed her position over the weekend, and I explained to her that I would have the DPW paint over the fist only," the city manager wrote in an email shared to the Voice. "I have further instructed DPW to blend in the white box where the fist existed.”

While Ms Yuasa did not immediately respond to The Independent’s request for comment, she told ABC that the first represented everyone regardless of race or ethnicity.

"Since I was born and raised in Clifton, I know how diverse it is and how inclusive we are, and I just wanted to celebrate," she said.

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