So my city, West St. Paul, made the New York Times this past week over a Black Lives Matter mural that has to come down for violating city ordinance. Then another Black man was killed by police in Minnesota on Sunday, Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center. Last night we had a metro-wide curfew.
It’s been a week. In the midst of a pandemic. After a summer of already doing this. During a trial where we were already reliving last summer.
I drafted a whole post about the mural controversy. It feels kind of pointless now.
But I’ll say a couple things…
I have rather ragey feelings about Black people killed by police.
I have rather mixed feelings about the mural.
I strongly support Black Lives Matter.
I also strongly support public art (go art park!).
But there are also clear city ordinances.
There’s an insinuation that the city is unfairly targeting this mural because of the message. If only there were an example showing whether or not the city were consistent. Oh yeah, there is: Anti-abortion signs went up last fall, not long after the Black Lives Matter mural, and they were forced to come down.
There’s a lot to work on here. I’ve argued for changing the ordinance. We need to address enforcement. And then our city has plenty of work to do on issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity. And I’m not even touching the broader issue of continued police violence against Black people. The juxtaposition of George Floyd/Capital attack/Daunte Wright for how police respond is like a racist sandwich.
Like I said, feelings of rage. Can’t find the adequate words.
Sidebar: Nerd Stuff
Finally, it’s a bit weird reporting on these local stories like the mural. I wrote about the mural going up last September, broke the news that the mural had to come down back in January, and reported on the imminent removal last week. I beat all the news outlets to the story (which I guess shouldn’t be surprising). It’s also surreal to see my site mentioned in the Star Tribune and linked to in the New York Times. Last night I reported on the heated City Council debate, which no one else will cover (because of Brooklyn Center and metro curfew, for sure).
Which raises an important tangental question: How much is a link in the New York Times worth? You might think I’m rolling in the sweet NYT link traffic, but no. Which is OK, considering I ran a story last week explaining my revenue model, “No Cash for Clicks.” Even if I got a flood of traffic, I don’t get paid per click or view; I’m supported by readers.