Black Lives Matter mural proposed near St. Joseph High School

NOW: Black Lives Matter mural proposed near St. Joseph High School

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- City officials in St. Joseph want residents to weigh in on a proposed Black Lives Matter mural near the high school and are so far getting mixed reviews.

Commissioners held their first meeting Monday where the public could weigh in.

50 people called in, most to show their support, but also a fair amount of residents against the mural.

“Comments were more concerned about the impact on the community of having a Black Lives Matter mural, also some were will this help us move forward or will this become more of a divisive issue of having the mural painted in front of the school,” said Mayor Mike Garey.

While the city will be considering the technicalities of putting a mural on a public street, their new social justice committee also aims to make lasting change.

“We’re going to be looking at this but also what can we do to make a long-term impact on the systemic racism in our area,” said Mayor Garey.

Trenton Bowens just had the ceremony for a Black Lives Matter mural now up on Colfax Avenue near Benton Harbor High School.

A St. Joseph resident then reached out in hopes of making this a joint project for both cities.

“He thought that with Benton Harbor and St. Joseph being twin cities you can’t have one without the other,” said Bowens.

Since a handful of Benton Harbor residents attend St. Joseph Schools, Bowens thinks having a mural on its street would only unify students.

“What is more empowering than telling the African American children who go to St. Joe that you matter to us,” said Bowens.

In regards to those who opposed the mural at Monday’s meeting, Bowens says it hurt.

“If we’re letting a statement that says Black Lives Matter offend us, then what really is it? Is it because it’s the word black - is it really that? It’s time for us to have those uncomfortable conversations,” said Bowens.

The St. Joseph City Commission will meet with the city attorney to discuss the legality of the mural Monday night, a public meeting for the social justice committee will be held virtually right after at 6 p.m.

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