Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon says a Black Lives Matter street art proposal has not met the minimum requirements to be issued a permit. Organizers wanted to paint the mural outside of Austin-East High School this weekend. The City of Knoxville issued a statement on the project:
“When the City recently learned of a proposal to paint “Black Lives Matter” in front of a school this weekend, every attempt was made to help the organizers realize the project in a safe, community-supported manner. However, with such short notice, the organizers did not have time to obtain a permit.”
Mayor Kincannon said community buy-in is a critical element of public art projects. “I support Black Lives Matter, and I also support public art. I have seen similar projects in other cities that could work in Knoxville too,” said Kincannon. “We have a process in place for painting City streets, and numerous City leaders worked hard to accommodate this event. Although we all tried our best, the minimum requirements have not yet been met and we were not able to issue a permit.”
The Decorative Painting of Streets Policy states that the support petition must have signatures from each of the adjacent property owners and at least 80 percent of the residents on the project street frontage(s) within two standard city blocks of the proposed project.
City officials say they’ve received petitions signed by residents both for and against the project. Others have said they want to see a Black Lives Matter painting, but on another street. City officials say they are committed to exploring additional options.
Kincannon says, “I hope we can work together to make this project happen, and when we do, I’ll gladly bring a paint brush and join the effort.”