To the editor:

(Re: “Failure to obtain city certificate means ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign may come down,” July 16, 2020) Ripon prides itself as the home of the Republican Party, formed in 1854 in opposition to slavery.

Around the same time Ripon became a stop on the “underground railroad,” a pathway to freedom in Canada for runaway slaves.

Today, Ripon is debating whether to turn its back on that proud tradition and obliterate a Black Lives Matter mural because: it does not meet certain technical standards, such as percentage of square footage. etc., or because it might be “divisive” or perhaps outright disdain for the message.

Tim Lyke, channeling but garbling Marshall McLuhan, says “it is the medium, not the message” that is at issue. Of course, McLuhan said “the medium is the message.”

In sum, it is indeed sad how far has Ripon fallen from the idealism of the mid-1800s.

Today we see or hear no opposition to the mass incarceration, disproportionately, of blacks. We hear no outrage that blacks are among the highest casualties of COVID 19 (along with nursing home residents and the imprisoned).

And today a mural supporting Black Lives Matter, very tastefully done, on a nondescript side wall of a building, almost concealed in an alcove on a side street off Watson Street (not even visible from Watson Street) is deemed offensive to the architectural purity of Watson Street.

Would an “underground railroad” to conceal escaping slaves be permitted in today’s Ripon? If the mural comes down or is covered over, Ripon will have earned itself a new reputation.

— Jerry Davidson

515 Scott St.

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