Eyes on the Street: Hollywood All Black Lives Matter Mural Shrunk
In June, volunteers painted a mural stating “ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER” on Hollywood Boulevard, immediately west of Highland Avenue. The “all” and the colors chosen affirm the lives of the Black transgender, nonbinary, and LGBTQ+ communities.
The mural was initially three lanes tall, and was intended to be removed at the end of the All Black Lives Matter march. The city temporarily preserved the mural by blocking off two lanes of traffic.
Then, at the urging of City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, the city decided to preserve the mural for posterity. Well, sort of. Apparently three lanes of traffic is a bit much to dedicate to such a mural, so the city trimmed it down to a single median lane. The city wouldn’t want any kind of commemoration to get in the way of drivers getting from one end of the city to the other.
The shrinkage feels symbolic of the way the city and the city council in general, and Mitch O’Farrell in particular, have too often half-assed city projects, especially involving protections for vulnerable constituents. O’Farrell represents one of the most politically progressive areas in the country. Yet he is more likely to be heard giving lip service to progressive policy while perpetuating an unjust status quo.
O’Farrell claimed to protect renters while casting a deciding vote against renter protections under COVID-19. He urged the state to protect street vendors while pushing vendors out of park space in his district. He supported temporary and permanent supportive housing, but doubled down on inhumane sweeps of his unhoused constituents, especially in Echo Park. On Temple Street, he implemented very modest safety improvements, while omitting the proven safety of a lane reduction.
Especially in the light of the recent attack on three transgender women (very near the street mural site) and ongoing police brutality toward communities of color, O’Farrell and the city need to move beyond the shallowest of commemorations, and take real steps toward ensuring that all Black lives – including transgender ones – are truly protected and uplifted.