Earlier this week painting was done on the Benton Street Bridge. The painting which reads: 'You can't defeat love' was painted over some time between Friday and Saturday. Early Saturday morning a notice was released stating the Benton Street Bridge is closed to all traffic at this time.
Saturday afternoon Big Spring Mayor Shannon Thomason issued a statement on Facebook regarding the recent Benton Street Bridge painting that was done by Rae Ripple and the events that have surrounded it.
The official statement on Facebook read as follows:
"As peaceful protests became violent riots over the recent murder of George Floyd, I was approached by a local artist who was inspired to create an all-inclusive message of love for Big Spring. Her message was simply “You Can’t Defeat Love”. Greatly admiring the sentiment, I brought the idea to city staff, who shared my enthusiasm for the message. As such, the City Manager authorized the art installation on the Benton St. bridge, just as he has with other art installations in the past.
Every city in America is currently facing the challenge of how to better support its citizens of color who are desperate to be heard while continuing to maintain safety for all. Big Spring is no different.
This message was simple, straightforward, and peaceful: “You Can’t Defeat Love”. Someone chose to deface that message last evening, and that is a crime which will be investigated. Those responsible for the defacing of this artwork did so on City property and will be charged accordingly. We cannot and will not ignore crime at a time where our City has experienced a double-whammy in 2020 of COVID-19 shutdowns and plummeting oil revenues. It is my job – and that of the Council – to focus on keeping our businesses open and our citizens safe, employed and secure in their homes. While I remain sensitive and open to the needs of our diverse communities, I am tasked with representing all our citizens.
I support the Constitutional rights of the protestors to lawfully assemble here in Big Spring and attended the first one held downtown on Sunday night. What happened to Mr. Floyd is inexcusable and the perpetrators must face justice. In this country, that means they must be tried in a court of law and judged by a jury of their peers. The protest Sunday night was, by and large, peaceful, however a few of the protestors attempted to disrupt traffic on Gregg St. by protesting in the street. They were advised by both me and members of the Big Spring Police Department that they could not impede traffic but were welcome to protest on the sidewalk. I would also like to acknowledge the professionalism and courtesy exhibited by the police officers involved that evening.
When attending the protest, I asked who the organizer was. No one acknowledged being the organizer, so I offered my support of their message and the support of the city in the exercising of their Constitutional rights to those of the attendees who were willing to speak with me. I was subsequently contacted by a person who evidently was an organizer and wanted to protest on Gregg Street. Both I and city staff attempted to explain that Gregg St. is a US highway that is regulated by the Texas Department of Transportation and that a permit allowing the closing of a section of Gregg St. took time to obtain. On behalf of the City, I offered the use of Heart of the City Park as a safe alternative for the participants, which the protesters availed themselves of Monday night.
As Mayor of our city, it is my responsibility to be inclusive of all citizens in any message the city puts forth. We at city hall take pride in our efforts to respect the feelings of all who reside here, regardless of race, faith, or sexual orientation. To that end, what better message can be offered during these troubled times than that of love?
The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 9th, 2020 at 5:30PM. In addition to the regular opportunity for the public to address the Council, there is a special session scheduled for discussion by the public regarding the George Floyd incident and a resolution has been prepared for action on by the Council. As always, the public is welcome to attend the meeting to express their concerns.
From the Book of Iasiah: “Come now and let us reason together”. Our citizens have proven that they can come together peacefully to debate controversial issues. The Big Spring City Council exists to ensure that the citizens voices are heard and their opinions represented, without the need for violence or vandalism. I have been and remain a constant champion for transparent, open, responsive government for the City of Big Spring and welcome anyone who wishes to sit down and communicate their concerns directly."