Black Lives Matter Mural Gets Green Light From Historic Preservation Committee To Stay In Place | New


The Black Lives Matter mural painted on the side of The Heist in downtown Ripon may remain.

This is the decision taken by the Historic Preservation Commission this evening (Wednesday) after The Heist owner Sam Luna submitted a full certificate of relevance to the commission.

Sam Luna, who was behind a Black Lives Matter mural painted on the side of The Heist building he owns, addresses the Historic Preservation Committee in front of a packed house.

It comes just over two weeks after the commission rejected another proposal because Luna didn’t include enough information. It was submitted retroactively after it was revealed the mural did not go through the correct channels before it was painted on the building earlier this summer.

Luna claimed at the time that, by her interpretation of city codes, works of art are exempt from obtaining the certificate of adequacy. However, city attorney Lud Wurtz noted that the object of concern was that work had been carried out in a historic district and the certificate was required for any exterior alterations to a building in the historic district.

The decision to reject the original proposal just over two weeks ago sparked outrage from many in and around the community. This was evident by more than 68 emails sent to the city on Tuesday afternoon for forwarding to the commission, and by a crowded city hall council chamber that evening.

At tonight’s meeting, there was approximately 45 minutes of public discussion, with the majority of public commentators saying the mural should be allowed to remain in place. Most of the speakers spoke about the moral issue of removing this mural and what they think is the consequences for Ripon.

One of those people was Rafael Salas, an art professor at Ripon College, who helped Luna paint the mural on the side of The Heist.

“We know that we are in the midst of a social and cultural revolution, I hope, which will help advance the cause of civil rights in the United States …” he said. “And I guess my question to the commission and our community at large, where do we want to be in this movement? Do we want to help move it forward? Or do we want to hide behind ordinances that have been written down? without really relating to what happened here? “

He then compared the situation with the mural in Rosa Parks and that “someone had to demand to keep your feet on a bus”.

“We know the story of Rosa Parks, and she said ‘no’, didn’t she. It was a small law at the time, but she became, on some level, the cause of the movement. for social justice. And so I would ask the town of Ripon what does this law actually stop us from or what is it leading us to? And I hope Ripon sees that in the story arc and in the arc of social justice… ”said Salas, adding that he and Luna had admitted not getting the proper permission before painting it.

Tim Lyke, meanwhile, spoke about the letter of the law and urged the committee to make their decision without basing themselves on the morality of the issue, which some supporters of the mural have contested.

“I don’t know why we are talking about the content of the post … You weren’t appointed to judge what is a good and a bad thought,” said Lyke, a resident of Green Lake. “… If the law says the mural belongs there or … can stay there, I don’t care if it’s in a closet or if it’s in the most visible part of the room. city, it should stay. And if we decide it for some reason, it doesn’t go aesthetically putting together, then it has to be changed, or you have to change the law. It’s that simple.

“But really any talk about our pride in our abolitionist heritage, and I’m very proud of it. I am also a big champion of Black Lives Matter, that is not the problem you are seized with today. It is whether or not this message or any message should be on a building. The minute you start to decide what a good thought is, it’s the minute you’ve gone way beyond your power. “

Rob Wittchow also spoke about the application of the letter of the law and noted that because Luna and Ripon College art teacher Rafael Salas, who helped paint the mural, did not take the necessary measures before painting the mural, it should be forced to take it apart.

“I know you’re already judging me for this, that I’m going to be negative,” Wittchow said. “I’m not going to be negative towards you at all. But what I will say is that the laws are in place and you have broken them. And if you want to put it somewhere else, I will even help you. regarding the rules and things in place for this community, we have to have laws, we have to have rules in place. And once you start breaking that, you send a different message than what you are trying to do. . clearly, kindly. send a message. But you are in violation, so if you are in violation, another message will be sent. “

He added that he has “from a credible source” that the owner of the building in question, Luna, in fact called Sue Leahy, the town’s building inspector, and spoke to her and asked her what was the requirements. As a result, he claimed that he felt that Luna, with malicious intent, was breaking the laws.

After an interjection from Andy Sorensen as he spoke, Wittchow noted the Chairman of the Historic Preservation Committee and Ald. John Splitt called the home inspector and was able to back up his claim that Luna called. When asked by Wittchow later, Splitt noted “I can’t [answer that question]. I do not respond to comments from the public. We can only sit here and listen.

During his public comment period, Wittchow also noted that he had a permit from the city’s building inspector and would submit it to paint “MAGA 2020” in Ripon Street because “if you can have your thing, i can have mine, but i’m gonna do it legally.

After nearly 45 minutes of public intervention, the Historic Preservation Committee wasted no time in making a decision. It took less than three minutes to approve the certificate of adequacy, not citing any of the comments that were made earlier as grounds.

“I will give the reasons for my approval,” said Splitt, who immediately brought forward the motion to approve the request. “The mural, and this stems from our design guidelines that we all should have looked at, the mural is not on the front facade of the historic building at 112/114 Watson Street. This does not detract from the integrity of the historic district and does not advertise. “

Friend Ald. and David Gallops, member of the Historic Preservation Committee, added that “the request is fulfilled, everything is there, everything is in order”.

In his motion to approve the mural’s certificate of suitability, which was passed unanimously, Splitt noted that he is awaiting appropriate fees and fines “for failure to cover or remove painting 72 hours after receiving a certified letter from Ripon’s home inspector “. the fine is $ 805 and the dates in question were June 30 to July 22.

Although the Historic Preservation Commission approved the request, the decision is not final. According to Mayor Ted Grant, this will be on the agenda for Monday’s joint council meeting under “Consent agenda” and council can choose to approve all of the items in that category or move one. especially for further discussion, where he could then review the decision.

The meeting of the Common Council is to begin at 7 p.m. in the city chambers.

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