On Sunday, Oct. 22, a mural was installed on the Guild Theater wall to memorialize the lives and uplift the names of seven Black men killed by Sacramento-area police: Adriene Ludd, Joseph Mann, Dazion Flenaugh, Lorenzo Cruz, Desmond Phillips, Ryan Ellis and Mikel McIntyre. The monument held space for those impacted by police murder, and allowed family members, friends and the community to both grieve and celebrate these men’s lives.
Despite the monument’s beauty and above all, necessary message, it has been removed from the wall of the Guild. While these men lived outside of Oak Park, the location speaks to the marginalization of Black folks that occurs with gentrification, increasing their risk of death at the hands of the police. As Oak Park becomes rapidly gentrified, with Black spaces being recuperated into trendy stores and breweries, we as a community demand the restoration of a mural that speaks to the Black history of this neighborhood, as well as the risk that gentrification poses to Black folks.
As a community we must ask why such a respectful, powerful mural was removed. Is it illegal to mourn while Black? To celebrate while Black? Why is Kevin Johnson, owner of the Guild Theater, so willing to deafen the voices of his childhood neighborhood? Why would Chris Orr, executive of the Guild and principal of Christian Brothers High School, ask for the removal of a mural that gives power and inspiration to young Black people?
This mural was a monument to uplift the names of men killed by the police. We refuse to let those names fade, and we demand the restoration of the mural.