People passing by the Black Lives Matter street mural on Scoville Avenue in Oak Park may have noticed the occasional presence of a vehicle marked with Village of Oak Park parked nearby. The vehicle, and the people within it, are meant to keep watch over the mural and deter vandals from defacing it. After the mural was defaced in early July, a rotations of vehicles from the village started parking nearby.
“Following the vandalism of the BLM mural, the Public Works Department and the police department were coordinating construction activities on Lake Street and keeping traffic out of the area and then also just to show a presence in the area to dissuade anybody that was thinking of doing anything illegal to the mural,” said Village Manager Cara Pavlicek.
According to Pavlicek, no village official guards the mural around the clock. When police officers or public works officials are on duty and need to write reports, they now go to the mural to do so.
“They are out there writing reports and not just like sitting there watching,” Pavlicek said.
No new staff members have been hired to do surveillance on the area. All village personnel at the mural are existing staff who are on the clock and no one collects overtime pay to keep watch.
“We’re not having people work overtime,” Pavlicek said.
A large portion of government work comes in the form of writing reports and doing paperwork, according to Pavlicek. “We believe that this is part of their job, and they can do it from that location,” said Pavlicek.
Village staff and police officers doing paperwork near the Black Lives Matter mural makes it unlikely that vandals will attempt to deface it – a definite kill-two-birds-with-one-stone situation.
The mural won’t always have someone from the village guarding it. The situation is temporary, according to Pavlicek.
“We don’t think it’s going to continue in perpetuity.”