By Associated Press - Saturday, September 19, 2020

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (AP) - Officials in a southwestern Michigan city have turned down a request to allow a Black Lives Matter mural to be painted on a street near a high school.

Commissioners in St. Joseph said they’re willing to work with students on other ways to promote the message.

Supporters said a Black Lives Matter mural would send a welcoming message next door to Benton Harbor, which is 85% Black. St. Joseph is 87% white.

Critics said it might lead to violence and cause traffic issues.

“By allowing anybody to paint any slogan on a city street would prevent us from having any control of future requests, and it’s all based on First Amendment rights,” Mayor Mike Garey said. “The city commission is now moving forward, working with partners who supported the concept to create a better solution.”

Many St. Joseph High School students had worked on the petition.

“If you truly believe that Black lives matter, you would not be afraid to upset a few people,” student Caitlin Sullivan said.

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