PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A massive Black Lives Matter mural is currently in the works on one of the streets abutting Kennedy Plaza in Providence.
People were seen painting “All Black Lives Matter” in white block lettering on Washington Street Thursday afternoon.
Rodney Davis tells 12 News it’s part of a larger project in partnership with several local artists. He’s one of the people who’s facilitating the project.
“People are going to be talking about it. People are going to be taking the bus and going ‘wow what is this?'” he said. “It will cause question and it will cause discourse, and discourse is OK. What we are trying to do is be decisive and not divisive. We want to see things grow.”
The lettering completed Thursday is just the base coat, Davis said. By Monday, the artists will have filled the letters in with their own distinct designs.
The project, according to Davis, is being spearheaded by PVD Fest, which is a city-run art festival. It’s been in the works for more than a year now, but was delayed due to a paint shortage.
When asked why they chose now to paint the mural, Davis replied, “Why not?”
“Black lives in our country are not valued. They do not matter to a great number of folks,” he said. “So this is a protest, but a silent one that emphasizes that … we as a community of Black and brown folks, we matter and we are contributors to our community.”
But the mural came as a complete shock to members of Black Lives Matter Rhode Island, who claim they weren’t asked to be part of the process.
“It’s a total slap in the face,” Mark Fisher of Black Lives Matter Rhode Island said. “We want to work with everybody, we want to be inclusive. We want to work with every race, every creed, every ethnicity, especially our own.”
“To have a Black Lives Matter mural slapped down in the middle of Kennedy Plaza, without us knowing anything about it, that goes against everything we are fighting for on the front lines,” he continued.
A city spokesperson tells 12 News the project is being privately funded by PVD Fest, College Unbound and Rhode Island School of Design. The city’s Department of Art, Culture and Tourism is also providing technical assistance.
The mural is temporary and will only be around for a couple of years, according to the spokesperson.