By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
Crews of Traffic Device Maintainers in Local 1455 laid the groundwork for five official murals spelling out Black Lives Matter on major boulevards and roadways around New York City.
Local 1455 members employed at the DOT Sign Shop in Maspeth, Queens, made and hung street signs at the thoroughfares officially co-named for the social justice movement.
As in Washington, D.C., where a Black Lives Matter mural paves the road to the White House, in June, Mayor Bill de Blasio and elected officials ordered the city Dept. of Transportation and the Public Design Commission to add the street art as a part of a societal shift towards more inclusive dialogues on race and policing.
“The DOT paint crews are incredibly talented,” said Mike DeMarco, president of Local 1455. “The work required to produce these murals is meticulously measured out and all done by hand. It’s all manual labor and really creative.” The DOT workers installed five official murals, one in each borough of New York City.
The DOT crew of 18 to 20 essential workers crafted the designs and barricaded the designated streets, safely taping off outlines of the huge lettering. “With the COVID-19 pandemic these essential workers took added safety precautions, working in staggered shifts, one person to a truck,” explained DeMarco.
Using yellow traffic paint, TDMs cut-in the installation before volunteers, artists and politicians filled in the rest as part of peaceful community events honoring the Black Lives Matter social justice movement.
“The TDMs doubled back to clean up, remove the tape and make corrections where people left footprints and paint spills, so the final projects are professional and perfectly done,” DeMarco said.
New York City has eight street murals total. TDMs painted five official murals including the most controversial BLM mural de Blasio ordered on Fifth Avenue in Midtown at Trump Tower.
TDMs also painted murals at Richmond Terrace on Staten Island; Jamaica Ave. in Queens; Joralemon St. In Brooklyn, and Morris Ave. in the Bronx.
Local artists created BLM murals in Harlem on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard. Like the BLM murals at Foley Square and Fulton St. in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, these reflect local artistry and cultural symbolism.
DeMarco added: “I am very proud of the dedication and hard work of Local 1455 members, especially in this extraordinary climate of uncertainty, unrest and profound loss of life.”