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New drawings appear after city washes Black Lives Matter chalk art off La Jolla path following complaints

"BLM" and "You can’t wash away hate" are pictured written in chalk on the La Jolla Bike Path on Sept. 21.
“BLM” and “You can’t wash away hate” are pictured written in chalk on the La Jolla Bike Path on Sept. 21, a few days after city workers washed chalk drawings supporting the Black Lives Matter movement off the path.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

For a second time, the city of San Diego power-washed chalk drawings off the La Jolla Bike Path in response to complaints that the drawings, which carried messages in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, were offensive. However, new drawings showed up a few days later.

The messages and images removed Sept. 16 were made over Labor Day weekend on the asphalt portion of the bike path north of Beaumont Avenue and Via del Norte during an event organized by La Jollan Ruth Leivers.

By the morning of Sept. 21, however, a few new chalk drawings had appeared on the bike path, including “BLM” and “You can’t wash away hate.”

Community members turned out to the La Jolla Bike Path on Labor Day to make chalk art in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Labor Day event was a repeat of one that occurred over the July 4 weekend. Those drawings were washed away a few days after that.

Nearby residents declined La Jolla Light requests for comment, but one neighbor named Laura told CBS8 that “if you want to express your views, do it on your own property. Put a Black Lives Matter poster on your property. But to impose your views on the general public who are just passing by, I don’t think it’s needed.”

City workers washed chalk drawings in support of the Black Lives Matter movement off the La Jolla Bike Path on Sept. 16.
San Diego city workers washed chalk drawings in support of the Black Lives Matter movement off the La Jolla Bike Path on Sept. 16 following complaints that the artwork was offensive.
(Courtesy)

City spokesman Anthony Santacroce told the Light that “the markings ... were identified as ‘offensive’ only by the reporting party. The responding crews followed normal operating procedures for removing markings in the right of way.”

Santacroce said he wasn’t sure how many complaints were filed but believed it was more than one.

He said “city crews respond quickly to all reports of graffiti on streets, bike paths and other right-of-way areas. Any markings that might compromise safety and visibility on facilities like these are top priorities for the graffiti removal teams.”

Participants in a Labor Day chalk-in draw images on the La Jolla Bike Path to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Participants in a Labor Day chalk-in draw messages and images on the La Jolla Bike Path in a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
(Stephen Simpson)

A friend told Leivers that the city was removing the drawings Sept. 16. “I was really disappointed that community members are offended by the chalk art messages,” Leivers said. “These are messages of equity and inclusion done by children and their families and community members.”

“We invited the community to use art to begin a conversation about equity that was safe and inclusive for families with children,” Leivers added, “particularly in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor,” three Black people whose recent deaths have sparked demonstrations nationwide.

Leivers said she also was motivated to organize the chalk drawing event “in reaction to the tearing down of a sixth-grader’s art on the corner of Nautilus and Draper … in our neighborhood.”

In that incident in June, multicolored signs with hand-drawn messages promoting diversity, Black Lives Matter and more were reportedly torn down by an “irate White man.”

“We wanted to allow the kids to have a space to use art, to kind of process what we’ve been going through,” Leivers said.

Sonia Teder-Moore, mother of the girl whose art was torn down, said she participated in the chalk drawings over Labor Day with her family. The event seemed “a wonderful opportunity to counteract [her daughter’s art being torn down] and join with neighborhood children and parents to create a colorful and meaningful statement of support for BLM,” she said. “Everyone was invited to participate and express themselves through art and word and in greeting neighbors walking by and an opportunity for discussion.”

“How unfortunate that someone … was so threatened by this gathering of families and their chalk-drawn hearts and ocean waves and ‘Black boys live here’ sentiments that they called the city to remove it,” Teder-Moore said. “Our kids deserve a better example.”

Not much remains of chalk drawings supporting the Black Lives Matter movement after the city washed them off.
Not much remains of chalk drawings supporting the Black Lives Matter movement after the city washed them off the La Jolla Bike Path following complaints.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Resident Molly Bowman-Styles also participated in the Labor Day activity and said it addressed “issues we need to talk about. It was lovely, it was uplifting.”

To see the drawings washed away “is really disappointing,” Bowman-Styles said.

Santacroce said “the city appreciates the community’s disappointment about the removal process and will continue to encourage free-speech efforts and community-based artwork that does not conflict with safety or visibility requirements for the public right of way.”

Asked whether she plans to hold the chalk drawings a third time, Leivers said, “Right now I’m just breathing.”

“La Jolla is an inclusive and diverse community,” she said. “I know there is room for the movement for Black Lives Matter here. There is room for children and adults to come together and through chalk art to write what’s in their hearts.” ◆