The Social Action Committee for Racial Justice today submitted to Town Hall a proposal for Murals on High Street and College Avenue.
“Placing the words Black Lives Matter on the street is important,” the permit application said. “The street has often been a site of trauma and terror for Black people in America. George Floyd’s neck was ground into a street. Michael Brown’s body was left to lie in the street after he was killed. High Street itself is where enslaved people were forced to walk, shackled and chained, when Chestertown was one of the busiest slave-trading ports in North America, and where myriad other brutalities and travesties of justice have been perpetrated in our town’s history. High Street, specifically, is also a place where Black people in Chestertown often do not feel welcome.”
The mural was proposed by residents Maria Wood, Wanda Boyer and Arlene Lee — and supported by the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice.
The design and permit request is submitted in time for a discussion at the Aug. 3 Council meeting.
The idea of painting the “Black Lives Matter” in the town’s historic district drew concerns at the July 6 council meeting from Mayor Chris Cerino Cerino, Ward 1 Councilman David Foster and Ward 2 Councilman Tom Herz over maintenance issues and whether the murals would “fit in” with the historic district’s 18th Century setting. They made no objection to the mural on College Avenue, which will read “We Can’t Breathe.”
“I think the aesthetic is going to be an awkward fit running right down the middle of High Street…it’s going to be pretty in your face,” Cerino said at the July 6 meeting when the proposal was first mentioned by SACRJ.
The idea also invoked the ire of some unnamed downtown residents, who retained the law firm of Phil Hoon to oppose the idea.