Well, here’s one mural you probably shouldn’t expect to see a lot of positive coverage about on political Twitter.
A group of roughly 40 people showed up Saturday night in front of police department headquarters in Tampa, Florida, to paint a massive “Back the Blue” mural, according to WTVT-TV
Now, the Tampa city government, as well as opponents of the project, are peeved because the mural painters didn’t obtain the proper permits.
WTVT reported that the project was organized by Kelli Campbell as a move to improve police morale.
“We want to make sure that they know just because we aren’t the loudest, doesn’t mean we aren’t there and in numbers,” she said.
“There’s a huge force. Our Back the Blue Florida group has 5,000 members in it, and that’s just a piece of the puzzle, of course.”
The mural, a block long, is painted in black, blue and white — the colors of the “Thin Blue Line” flag.
The issue of approval, however, is a thorny one.
Campbell said she had verbal approval from the office of Democratic Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. However, the office said the group was still working through the approval process.
“Any tribute to honor their service is welcome,” Castor, a former police chief, told WTVT in a statement.
“It’s unfortunate they didn’t see the permitting process through so that our community could participate in showing their appreciation for the brave men and women that service our residents every day.”
Kristen Krutz, another one of the volunteers who helped organize the project, noted that there’s a double standard when it comes to the issue of permitting.
“The reason why we decided to proceed without a permit is because Black Lives Matter has murals all over the city that say Black Lives Matter, and they were not permitted,” Krutz told the Tampa Bay Times.
Krutz said she filed a records request to see the permits for the Black Lives Matter murals and found none. A city spokeswoman told the Times they garnered approval as part of Tampa’s “Art on the Block” program, which allowed murals to be painted throughout the city on June 27.
That program appears to have been enacted by executive order, and only one Black Lives Matter mural is listed as being approved. It’s unclear whether Krutz was mistaken when she referred to multiple murals or whether there are more that exist.
There are others whose problem with the “Back the Blue” mural had less to do with the permitting process and more to do with the temerity of expressing support for law enforcement.
The Times quoted Cam Parker, an artist who created a rainbow fist mural in Tampa, meant to show support for both the LGBT community and the Black Lives Matter movement. The paper described him as “embarrassed” by the “Back the Blue” mural.
“Parker said he can understand supporting law enforcement, but he feels the Back the Blue mural is a retaliation against the Black Lives Matter movement and its murals. Parker said it feels like those who painted the mural are pushing back against people who are just asking not to be killed,” the Times reported.
“We’re not having fun talking about Black Lives Matter,” Parker said. “I am now staunchly and like, unrelentingly using my voice to do what I can to bring awareness and to let people know it’s not a fad, it’s not a trend, it’s not anything that is going away ever.”
I certainly have no problem with Parker using his voice to bring awareness to what he supports. He, apparently, has a problem with other people doing the same thing.
Neither Parker nor any media outlet reporting on the mural found anyone involved with the “Back the Blue” mural indicating it was retaliation against the Black Lives Matter movement or that they were “pushing back against people who are just asking not to be killed.” They may have been pushing back against calls to defund the police or to treat them like violent lepers or militarized stormtroopers, sure, but that’s something entirely different.
“They’re being defunded and things that they need and require to do their job are not going to be provided anymore,” Krutz said.
“Obviously, that would make anybody feel unappreciated, unwanted, and that’s the opposite of what we wanted them to see with the mural on the street.”
That’s apparently an issue in 2020. Go figure.
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