The “Black Lives Matter” street mural on Ste-Catherine Street East is no more.
City work crews were seen removing the painted artwork early Tuesday with pressure washers.
Community activists armed with spray paint cans and rollers took over the pedestrianized street in downtown Montreal to paint “Black Lives Matter” in French and English in July.
The colourful writing stretched an entire block between St-Hubert and St-André streets. Fondation Dynastie created the fresco in partnership with the city and a number of community organizations. It came in response to similar gestures in other cities across the United States and the world during widespread protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Organizers said the piece was to draw awareness to the racial inequalities and injustices Black people face in Montreal and abroad. Hanna Che, who helped curate the urban art piece, said she and other organizers all knew the piece was only going to be there for the summer, while Ste-Catherine was pedestrian-only.
“The objective of this fresco was to address social inequalities and systemic racism through art. Now that the mural is finished, I think it’s important to think about how you’re going to support Black artists from now on,” Che told Global News.
The removal was necessary, according to the city, as it is scheduled to reopen that section of Ste-Catherine Street East to vehicle traffic.
“Because it’s not going to be pedestrian-only anymore, whether it’s Ste-Catherine or Mont-Royal Ave, based on the road safety code we have to take everything away so it’s easier for car drivers. It’s safer,” explained Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante.
Artist Marie-Denise Douyon, who was among those who painted the fresco, said she doesn’t mind seeing the piece go as long as something else takes its place.
“I think it doesn’t really bother me, if the movement continues. You know, you build on it and then you redo it next year. It’s about the message,” Douyon told Global News.
Mayor Plante said she is open to other artistic ideas to honour the Black Lives Matter movement.