Street Closure At Black Lives Matter Mural Extended To Sept. 30
The city of Charlotte has extended until Sept. 30 the closure of South Tryon Street around the "Black Lives Matter" street mural that was painted during protests against systemic racism last month.
Assistant city manager Taiwo Jaiyeoba is calling the extended closure a "pedestrian plaza pilot program." He said it will give city officials time to weigh the pros and cons of making the closure permanent.
The city originally closed the street for safety, and that's still a factor as people continue to visit the mural daily, Jaiyeoba said.
"We don't want to have to open this while people continue to congregate here for the very fact that we want to keep them safe," Jaiyeoba said at the mural Thursday.
Seventeen artists painted the mural June 9, with the city's blessing. That came as thousands of people were marching nightly through uptown to protest police killings of Black people and call for racial justice.
Jaiyeoba said the mural is part of a broader effort to create new public spaces and "activate" under-used spaces in neighborhoods around the city. That includes murals in 15 neighborhoods painted last month, as well as other kinds of improvements that will lure people. He calls it "placemaking."
"It's not just about murals, it's really about making a place vibrant," he said.
Jaiyeoba said city officials have begun meeting with uptown residents and businesses to gather feedback on how the South Tryon Street plaza affects them.
Benton Jones, who lives in a nearby apartment tower, said he's worried about how the closure will affect traffic and crime. He said more people who are homeless have started gathering on the street.
"We need more of a police presence, not necessarily on site, but we need the very least response time to be better," Jones said. He suggested the city consider moving it to the Levine Avenue of the Arts, between the Mint and Bechtler museums.
Georgie Nakima was one of the artists and said she supports the extended closure.
"I think that's a smart thing to do, because see so many people have come out here and engaged with it. So it's kind of become a symbolic place for Charlotte," Nakima said, as she touched up her "M" in the mural Thursday.
Nakima said closing the street permanently would be "awesome."
"I think that the businesses nearby would benefit from the foot traffic, and I think that (the mural) is an important message to put out, so I'm all for it," she said.
The mural is on South Tryon Street between 3rd and 4th streets. You can find out more about the street closure on the city website.
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