Business owner paints “Black Lives Matter” mural on Silver Spring street

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SILVER SPRING, Md. (WDVM) — We’ve seen murals and public art honoring the Black Lives Matter movement crop up in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago — and now in Montgomery County, Maryland.

“It’s something that we’ve been quiet about for too long,” said Rich Bird, the business owner behind the mural.

In front of Home Court, Bird’s store on Philadelphia Avenue on Silver Spring, the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is emblazoned on the asphalt in white paint.

“This isn’t necessarily just a moment for us. I think the idea that black lives matter should be part of our day to day lives,” Bird said.

The mural takes up the better part of an entire block. Bird and his business partner painted it without the go-ahead from county officials.

“We were in a position to say ‘Hey, we’re gonna do it and if there’s negative consequences we’ll just have to deal with that.’ Thankfully the county’s been O.K. with it. They’ve been nothing but supportive after the fact,” Bird said.

Silver Spring resident Karen Leichtnam likes the mural. She comes to Philadelphia Avenue to tend to her garden plot, next door to Home Court, several times a week.

“My only concern is that it’s kind of out-of-the-way on a dead end street, where not many people see it and I wish we had more murals like these,” she said.

Though most people have given Bird positive responses, reactions haven’t been entirely positive. Bird says there are misconceptions about the movement and what it means.

“We’re not a mob, we’re not violent, we’re not angry, we’re quite the opposite actually. We want harmony, we want unity,” he said.

He hopes the mural serves as a constant reminder of the movement.

“We’re not willing to protest in silence. It’s going to be loud. It’s going to be obvious, and it’s going to be here forever,” Bird said.

“Just don’t forget it, don’t let it die.”

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