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‘Black Lives Matter’ sign in Tulsa defaced with blue paint

August 11, 2020 GMT

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A “Black Lives Matter” street sign in Tulsa that has been the cause of ongoing tension has been vandalized amid national calls for racial justice.

Community members repainted the sign Sunday after it was defaced with a line of blue paint, the Tulsa World reported.

C.J. Weber-Neal, a member of the Greeenwood Arts and Cultural Society, said BLM supporters used social media to organize a group to repaint it.

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The sign had been completed before the arrival of President Donald Trump for a campaign rally and Juneteenth, a state holiday commemorating the emancipation of Black slaves in America.

“A coward comes down in the middle of the night because they’re too scared to express how they really feel. So they feel that the best way to express that is for them to come through and do something like this,” Weber-Neal said of the vandalism.

Mayor G.T. Bynum said in a Sunday statement: “No one helps the Tulsa Police Department by stoking division in our community.

The blue paint was splattered across the sign at an unknown time. The color blue is often associated with law enforcement, but it is not clear who did it or why.

The Rev. Mareo Johnson, founder and president of the Black Lives Matter Tulsa Chapter and pastor of Seeking the Kingdom Ministries, said he wasn’t sure who could have been behind the vandalism.

“Do I think it is some racist person behind it? I don’t know, maybe. But Black Lives Matter is not against police. So whoever done it, it don’t look good ... it don’t make sense because it’s not no war with Black Lives Matter and the Police Department,” Johnson said.

Tulsa World previously reported that city councilors had decided to get rid of the sign during a July council meeting in which they discussed whether paintings on city streets are legal without permits. The sign had been painted without the city’s permission.

Kara Joy McKee, a city councilor, said in a statement that the council will decide how to best “protect and maintain this mural as a new historic landmark for Tulsa in our meeting on the 19th.”

Last week, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office, said Bynum would wait until the upcoming meeting to take any action on the mural.