Burlington City Council to decide fate of mural


Sawyer Loftus

The mural in question, “Everyone Loves a Parade” by Pierre Hardy

Sawyer Loftus, Senior Staff Writer

The Burlington City Council has promised action following the approval of a report that called for the removal of a mural on Leahy Way by August 29, 2022.

The report from the Mural Task Force recommends the “Everyone Loves a Parade” mural be removed and put up somewhere else inside Burlington among other recommendations, according to the written report.

The report was approved by a vote of 10-1 majority of the council.

The task force is asking the mural to be replaced by a series of four murals called “the History of Burlington” that shows Burlington as a “diverse and welcoming place to live, work, and visit,” according to the report.

The original mural was commissioned in 2009 and painted by Canadian artist Pierre Hardy, according to a July 25 Seven Days article.

In October 2017 activist Albert Petrarca vandalized the mural by spray painting “off the wall” on the plaque next to the mural, igniting debate over what Petrarca described as a “racist Vermont history,” according to an October 2017 Burlington Free Press article.

In March, the Burlington City Council voted to create the Mural Task Force that has since met nine times since. The task force is made up of seven members and is chaired by UVM Center for Rural Studies research specialist Weiwei Wang.

The task force sees the removal of the mural as the best possible solution, Weiwei Wang, chair of the task force, said.

“The reason why we are recommending the removal of the mural is because it does not represent the Burlington or Vermont community,” she said. 

Although there was disagreement on the task force, the recommendations laid out in the report “best satisfy” everyone as far as she understands, Wang said.

Another key component of the group’s recommendations was to make a more concrete process to gain funding and approval for future murals, Wang said.

“Through our many weeks of information gathering we have found that there were a lot of, let’s say steps that weren’t completed that probably should have,” she said.

Because full funding was not secured for the ELAP mural, the focus of the development committee in charge of the mural to be divided which was a “detriment,” Wang said.

City Councilor Jane Knodell promised that through the approval of the report, work to create some sort of action will continue and go before the council by the end of September.

“Tonight we are just accepting this report, but we will take action,” Knodell said. “I think it’s important that this council take ownership of the issue with the Mayor, and come up with a real plan of how we’re going to move forward with these recommendations.”

The Burlington community still remains divided over the fate of the mural. Prior to the start of the August 13 meeting, Liz Mariani, a Burlington resident, said she feels the mural should be removed and replaced with another mural created by a Vermont artist.

Richard Lyons, a longtime Burlington resident, said he can see both sides of the issue. Historically he hasn’t seen many people of color here, he said.

“I’ve been around Burlington since 1947, when I was born…during the 50’s and 60’s when I was a little older walking around Church Street, I didn’t really see that many black people,” Lyons said.

If there was an addition made to include more recent history that features a growing diverse community, he could get behind that, Lyons said.  

She and fellow task force members feel “cautiously optimistic” that a resolution will come in favor of their recommendations by the end of September, Wang said.