Montpelier, VT – In a unanimous vote, Montpelier City Council voted against the addendum to the Black Lives Matter Mural.
Republican candidate for governor John Klar was the leading proponent of the new mural. Klar proposed having an American flag as well as the words: “Liberty & Justice for All” painted on either side of the BLM statement.
But City councilor Conor Casey opposed the effort from the start.
“This, in my mind, is a deliberate attempt to detract from a basic affirmation of our values,” said Casey.
He said if it was passed, the two-part mural would be a considerable length and size.
“If it were to be the same size letters, that would stretch into the intersection way back there,” said Casey.
John Klar explained his intentions were good and fair. The mural, he said, reaffirms the country’s founding principles and values. Klar believed the mural would help unify Vermonters.
“We don’t see anything wrong with the pledge of allegiance and that concept with the goals of equality for black people in America. We see them as compatible,” said Klar.
But one community member and activist said it is going to take more than words to make a change.
“‘Liberty & Justice’ for black people, for indigenous people, for people on the bottom of this society, has to actually occur, has to actually manifest. Otherwise, it’s just words,” said Jones.
Jabari Jones agreed with Casey about the mural detracting from the Black Lives Matter statement, explaining the meaning and message behind “Black Lives Matter.”
“This is not a battle of over words, this is a battle over lives. To save lives. Black lives. So when black lives are saved then our whole society will be transformed,” said Jones.
Montpelier City Council spent hours Wednesday coming to a final decision. They heard from decision leaders on either side, opened the meeting to public comment, and deliberated as a council.
The vote sparked conversations about free speech rights, incidents of vandalism, racial inequality, and existing systemic oppression in Vermont.
The Council said they hoped to aspire to “Liberty and Justice for All” but the Black Lives Matter mural will continue to be the focus, serving as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done.