The "Black Lives Do Matter" mural surrounding the Market House was decommissioned after more than six months in downtown Fayetteville.
The mural was commissioned March 2019 and painted in late June following the death of George Floyd.
At the start of the Monday evening meeting, Mayor Mitch Colvin addressed the decision, "I'd personally like to apologize. When we make mistakes, I have to own up to it, and I've spent the day explaining things the best to what I understand it."
The mayor's statement came as the city announced on Monday that a contractor would start removing the lettering that surrounds the Market House. Crews spent the day applying a black coating.
More than 10 residents called into the city council meeting to speak during the public forum section. Most of the callers expressed their displeasure with the city's decision. Others presented options for another project to express unity.
NOW: A few Fayetteville residents are standing outside city hall to express their distaste with the city removing “Black Lives Do Matter” and “End Racism Now” from around the Market House. They’re calling into the council meeting. @ABC11_WTVD @CityOfFayNC pic.twitter.com/XE6VfyCHtM— Michael Lozano (@MLozanoABC11) January 12, 2021
Myah Warren, a Fayetteville activist, stood outside city hall with two other residents to call into the meeting. They each shared their thoughts, including the city's decision to remove the phrases a week after the U.S. Capitol riots.
Fayetteville City Council votes to move forward with removing Market House imagery from city property
"You took it up a week after thugs, because that's what they are, thugs marched into the Capitol. You took it up a week before MLK Day. You took it up weeks before Black History Month," Warren said.
In a one-on-one interview, Mayor Colvin told ABC11 the art installation was always meant to be temporary but understands the current optics.
"It came to a time where staff made a decision to say it either needs to be re-done, touched up for the third time or we need to do a different plan," Colvin said. He says the city will look at another project in the near future.
Warren says if the next street art or project doesn't include the words "Black Lives Matter" then she and others in the community won't be satisfied.
"You put a temporary band-aid on something that's been lasting for years. And so, I'm angry, I'm upset," Warren said.
The city says contractors will continue to remove the painted lettering in the coming days.