City of Florence to remove Black Lives Matter mural

Pee Dee

FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — The Black Lives Matter mural painted in Florence will be removed, Mayor Wukela said Thursday.

Mayor Wukela said the city authorized a temporary mural that was to be painted with biodegradable paint that would wash away after a normal rain cycle. Wukela said despite agreeing to the terms, the organization responsible for the painting used permanent paint instead.

“It was bliss. The Black community was feeling heard, understood, respected and now you want to slap them in the face and remove this,” said Suzanne La Rochelle, leader of Action Together Pee Dee.

“It was approved by our city council,” Christopher McCray with Next is Now said. “Not only was it approved but it was supported as we had council members out here who painted on this pavement themselves.”

“I love that mural,” Pat Gibson-Hye Moore said. “It tells a story. There was a lot of work and time put into because I went out there that Saturday and I went out there that Monday. It’s just regrettable that there’s so much hate in this city, this state, this country, that this has to be an issue.”

The mural was defaced with racist messages and due to the organizer using permanent paint, the mural will be removed, Wukela said.

“I am deeply disturbed by the racially motivated vandalism of this piece of art,” Wukela said. “I am also disappointed in the organizer’s failure to comply with the terms of the authorization for which they applied.”

The city will no longer authorize permits for temporary or permanent painting on city streets.

Read the full statement from Mayor Wukela below:

Some weeks ago, Mr. C. Wyleek Cummings, a representative of a community organization, contacted the City with a request to be permitted to use biodegradable painting materials on a section of a street within the City limits to paint the words Black Lives Matter on the pavement. The intent expressed by Mr. Cummings understood by the City was that this would be a community project and temporary in nature, with the use of biodegradable materials.  In the request, Mr. Cummings wrote, “Materials used to complete project are biodegradable and are not meant to be a permanent fixture.”

The City authorized the temporary mural to be painted with biodegradable paint that would wash away within a normal rain cycle. The organization applied for, and accepted, permission on these terms. 

 The organization subsequently painted a well-done and attractive mural on Barnes Street in front of the Pearl Moore Basketball Center. Unfortunately, and in violation of the terms of the City’s permission, the organizer used permanent paint. 

Later, the mural was defaced by bigots who painted racial epitaphs on the face of the mural.

I am deeply disturbed by the racially motivated vandalism of this piece of art. I am also disappointed in the organizer’s failure to comply with the terms of the authorization for which they applied.

 In any event, given that the mural has been defaced and that it is in violation of the City authorization, the City will be forced to remove the mural.

Suffice it to say, going forward, no permits will be authorized for painting on City streets whether permanent or temporary.”

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