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Planned BLM Road Mural Pulled After Anti-Abortion Mural Proposed

an aerial shot of the proposed black lives matter road mural
The proposed "Black Lives Matter" road mural would have been nearly 200 feet in length. (Proposed Rendering: Venture Richmond)

Organizers have abruptly called off a planned “Black Lives Matter” road mural on Richmond’s East Grace Street. 

The non-profit Venture Richmond got approval from the city to paint a nearly 200-foot-long street mural last month. It would have been similar to other yellow “Black Lives Matter” murals that have been painted in places like Washington, D.C., Seattle and a host of other cities. But Mike Dickinson, a right-wing candidate for Richmond City Council, countered with an application to have a “Baby Lives Matter” mural painted in front of the Richmond Planned Parenthood on North Hamilton Street.

Dickinson said he was trying to make a point: “If you allow one, you have to allow all.” 

An aerial rendering of the proposed "Baby Lives Matter" mural submitted with Mike Dickinson's application.
An aerial rendering of the proposed "Baby Lives Matter" mural submitted with the application. (Courtesy of Mike Dickinson)

“I think it’s best if government just stays out of making roadways and other public areas political art displays, because then you pick and choose and government shouldn’t be in the business of doing that,” he said. 

Dickinson said he filed his application to have the mural installed on September 1.

Just one week later on Sept. 8, the Richmond Planning Commission held a closed door session with their legal counsel. It is unknown what was discussed, but following the meeting the Planning Commission immediately voted to reconsider the "Black Lives Matter" mural, reversing its previous decision to approve. On Sept. 18, Venture Richmond withdrew its application. 

“I think the City Attorney told [the Planning Commission] basically, ‘If you do this, you are opening a can of worms,’” Dickinson said. “It wasn’t just me. Some people I talked to wanted ‘Dancer Lives Matter’ on Midlothian in front of Paper Moon, some wanted Blue Lives Matter, and you can’t really stop it.”

A spokesperson for the city has not yet respond to a request for comment.

Venture Richmond Deputy Executive Editor Anedra Bourne said the organization pulled their application permit because of the amount of time it has taken to get the project approved,  including the Sep. 8 vote to reconsider, and “the many stipulations attached to such a mural.”

“We are not aware of other applicants or their process with the city,” Bourne said 

Similar fights have broken out in places like Tampa, Florida, where there are two dueling Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter road murals.