“It’s symbolic:” Reactions after Wilmington City Council votes to remove ‘Black Lives Do Matter’ sign

“It’s symbolic:” Reactions after Wilmington City Council votes to remove ‘Black Lives Do Matter’ sign
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 6:03 PM EDT

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The “Black Lives Do Matter: End Racism Now” sign in downtown Wilmington will be removed by the end of the year after city council voted this week to take it down.

The sign was originally approved by city council in 2020 in the wake of the racial justice movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd. Council then voted last year to extend the display at Jervay Memorial Park for another year.

Council voted 5-2 to remove the sign, with Kevin Spears and Clifford Barnett being the only ones to vote against taking it down.

“The mural is a placeholder,” said Spears. “The mural is reassurance to the people of this community that Black lives matter.”

Spears says the sign is a symbol that Wilmington needs to do more on the road to equality.

“There is work to be done in Wilmington,” said Spears. “We have signed up to do the work, that’s what that means.”

Other council members voiced concerns about setting a precedent for government speech and that groups could use the sign as an example to support messages of their own. Spears said there have been no requests for anyone looking to place a sign in that space.

“It goes outside of the city limits, it goes into New Hanover County, it spills over into Pender, everywhere,” said Spears. “Anywhere where there is inequality, we want the quality of life to be increased.”

Sonya Patrick with Black Lives Matter Wilmington says there is no reason for the sign to be taken down.

“It’s symbolic that in a city where we do have institutionalized racism, that there are people that want things to be better, regardless of how bad or how horrific it is, there are people there that want to make a difference,” said Patrick. “And that’s what that sign meant: that we want to make a difference. We want to put an end to racism.”

The resolution passed on Tuesday night calls for the sign to be taken down by December 27.