Jamaica, Queens, New York
In a few weeks, New York City (and other American cities) will be recognizing the one year anniversary of the extrajudicial murder of George Floyd committed by Officer Derek Chauvin and also the start of the Black Lives Matter mass protest demonstrations that followed it.
Which brings up Mayor de Blasio’s feeble recognition of that momentous tragedy and other preventable deaths at the hands of overzealous police based on the race of the victims. Inspired by Mayor Muriel Browser, who ordered a mural of the movement’s universal political slogan on a street in Washington D.C, the Blaz decided to sextuple down on Browser’s tribute and painted 6 murals on the 5 boroughs. The one placed on the world’s borough of Queens was on Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica, right in front of the landmark Rufus King house and park.
I happened to witness it being painted last summer in July as volunteers put the finishing touches on it.
The mural covered both sides of the two way street and spanned about 2 blocks. Although not as elaborate as the BLM mural on Fulton St. in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn; he people did a great job painting it, although this would have been better if the city repaved the street with new asphalt before they did it. But The Blaz might have been in a rush that he didn’t bother, make that didn’t want to bother getting the permits to paint the slogan on the street.
Sadly, the mural that is supposed to be a tribute to civil rights and in memoriam of Black lives cut down by wanton aggressive policing, is no more.
All that’s left of the world renowned civil rights slogan is faint traces of the words “lives” and “matter” on the lane going eastward. The word Black is wholly vanished. Wonder when de Blasio and the Department of
Transformation Transportation suddenly decided the Black Lives Matter on Jamaica Ave. pretty much didn’t matter anymore and decided not to maintain it like the more elaborate and huger mural on Fulton St. in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.
What’s especially odd is that there hasn’t been much agitation about it all, considering the various efforts the Blaz made last year in his vain efforts to preserve the BLM mural he spitefully had painted in front of Trump Tower on 5th Avenue (even though he already painted a mural in Harlem) after it was vandalized with gallons of paint every week last summer and in one final act of destructive activism, covered with tar being dumped by a pick up truck. But it looks like that one is going to meet the same fate of the vanishing one in Queens, going by the stains still remaining and paint fading on the street mural.
It’s clear that the Jamaica Ave. mural didn’t get the same protection as the Brooklyn and Midtown Manhattan ones, the latter two benefiting from the presence of steel barricades, leading to traffic getting diverted away from the murals. While the one in Jamaica looks as if the avenue was never shut down to traffic on the day after the painting was completed, plus how this strip on Jamaica Ave., right by a city park no less, obviously was never considered to be part of the city’s open streets program.
But this mural, as well as the others in the other four boroughs, was never about the message and the movement of Black Lives Matter, it was only about optics. The Blaz exploited BLM to mural wash away his idiotic policy decisions during last years protests; from his idiotic and unenforceable 8 p.m. curfew, his NYPD’s violent maltreatment of protesters and anyone that happened to be near them, whether journalists or essential workers and his appalling insouciance of his NYPD’s abuse of authority and trampling of first amendment rights to publicly assemble which consequently led to charges of human rights violations and an investigation by A.G. Letitia James condemning the NYPD’s gross mishandling of the protests, leading to an overhaul of disciplinary measures for rogue officers.
Although a fresh coat of paint can absolve this, it might be better to let the digression and neglect of the Jamaica Ave. BLM mural serve as an example of what happens when movements get politicallyy co-opted by virtue signalling opportunists like the Blaz as he winds down his last months as Mayor of New York City. The mural’s current state should serve as a condemnation symbol of his, his bureaucracy and elected district officials fleeting memories. This mural signifies nothing, and that’s all that should remain as it’s eradication continues under the wheels of daily traffic.