The Kent Pilot has learned that downtown residents represented by local attorney, Phil Hoon, will forgo any further legal challenges to a permit to paint a “Black Lives Matter” mural in the 200-block of High Street near Memorial Park.
The news early Wednesday follows an earlier story where Ward 2 Councilman Tom Herz said he would not support the measure — after giving his full support and commitment to permit requesters Wanda Boyer, Arlene Lee and Maria Wood.
Herz’s change of heart could most likely make him the swing vote in 3-2 decision on the Town Council against murals on High Street and College Avenue.
Mayor Chris Cerino and Ward 1 Councilman David Foster have voiced opposition to the murals being placed on public streets and Ward 3 Councilman Ellsworth Tolliver and Ward 4 Councilwoman Meghan Efland have voiced their full support for the murals.
Over the last week there have been legal opinions to kibosh the murals or allow them to go forward. Cities and towns across the country have painted murals in support of the black community following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police on May 25.
Hertz’s reversal came at great disappointment to the permit requesters and members of the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice, who have pinned their hopes on Chestertown’s leaders making an affirmative anti-racist statement on a street with a well-documented history of slavery and segregation.
Arlene Lee, Co-Chair of the Social Action Committee (one of the permit requesters) said she hoped that the council could approve the Black Lives Matter mural as a public statement.
“We are very happy to hear that there could be common ground about the street murals, Lee said. “We have now provided seven different options for the Mayor and Council to choose from, which I hope shows that we are willing to work with them. It appears that everyone is coalescing around the idea of the town adopting the murals as government speech. That is great news. I guess all that remains is to see if the Mayor and Council will support what the community is presenting as a compromise that brings us together.”
Herz said he had no further comment on the matter when the Kent Pilot reached out to him today.