Artist restoring vandalized Black Lives Matter sign

The giant Black Lives Matter sign that was constructed in June at the southern tip of William Curtis Park became a nightly gathering spot for neighbors and passersby.

With candles at its base, the sign attracted people seeking a way to heal during the national outrage over the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis as well as other recent police killings.

The Black Lives Matter art installation at the south end of Curtis Park at Sutterville Road before it was vandalized. It is being rebuilt.

The sign stood for about 30 days before vandalism took its toll – the entire sign was knocked down and the large BLM letters were broken into pieces. Neighbors tried fixing it, but ultimately the broken pieces were too compromised for the sign to remain standing.

“When I first built it, it took weeks and so you can imagine my frustration rebuilding and repairing about 40% of the sign, repainting and rewriting every single name,” said Zach Trowbridge, the sign’s creator. “Whoever vandalized the sign really wanted to destroy it.” Trowbridge has been rebuilding the sign, though a tedious and expensive project. Tedious, he says, because the entire sign is built with beams and pocket holes, a particularly cumbersome style of construction.

Trowbridge, who lives in the Hagginwood neighborhood and does woodworking as a hobby, is grateful that the sign was allowed to stand for as long as it did. The assistance of city parks director Mario Lara and Councilmember Jay Schenirer made that happen. The sign was never intended to be permanent, though its popularity motivated Trowbridge to rebuild it.

Trowbridge says it’s unlikely the city would allow it to return to William Curtis Park after the damage incurred at that location. He is considering other locations, including James

McClatchy Park, Sojourner Truth African Heritage Museum and Oak Park Art Garden.

“I tried to not take the spotlight by advertising that I made the sign since I’m white and this moment is very much for the Black community,” Trowbridge said.

To see what happens to the BLM sign, follow Trowbridge on Instagram at @build_repeat. Contributions to the cost of rebuilding can be sent to the artist by Venmo at @ZachTrowbridge

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