‘We Take Anti-Racism Seriously’: The Story Behind the BLM Murals in San Juan, PR

Lead Photo: Screenshot: Twitter @lgbtpr.
Screenshot: Twitter @lgbtpr.
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Many cities followed suit after Washington, D.C. used public signage to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. There are now similar paintings on the streets of Atlanta, Brooklyn, Austin, Charlotte and more. We can add San Juan, Puerto Rico to the list as well thanks, in part, to Bad Bunny.

“Black Lives Matter” is painted across a bustling avenue in the San Juan tourist zone of Condado, in huge, bright yellow lettering. It covers a sizable portion of the street near a much-visited oceanside park. Benito initiated the effort, unveiled on June 20, through Fundación Good Bunny. He reached out to Mayor Yulín Cruz Soto, who supports the endeavor, for permits.

The city’s historic Hiram Bithorn Stadium has also been emblazoned with the Black Lives Matter message. The statement of support spans the landmark’s baseball park’s covered section so that it’s clearly visible for anyone flying in or out of San Juan.

“So they know that in Puerto Rico and in San Juan,” Cruz Soto told El Nuevo Dia, “we take anti-racism seriously and with respect.”

Reactions to the news have been mixed, not unlike people’s views about the existence of racism in Puerto Rico.

“This is too much. Authorized vandalism is what it is,” one user commented on the El Nuevo Dia story. Arguments about capitalism, socialism and communism (as well as criticism of Cruz Soto) are scattered throughout the comments, too.

“Meanwhile in Old San Juan it smells like piss and Río Piedras is a ghost town,” one person wrote. “Yulín, get to work in these few months you have left. In November, you’ll be unemployed.”

Other objections are couched in support, with the caveat that there’s anti-racist work to do on the island, too.

‪Gracias Bad Bunny. Sería bueno que te expresaras en contra del racismo de Kobbo Santarrosa. #BoicotAKobbo

Posted by Pedro Julio on Saturday, June 20, 2020

There is plenty of unabashed praise for the message too, of course, with some folks who are particularly happy about the location chosen.

Ironically it’s on the same stretch where one of the biggest threats choking Puerto Rico, vulture and Trump supporter John Paulson, owns several hotels: the Vanderbilt, la Concha and Serafina.

Posted by David Galarza Santa on Saturday, June 20, 2020

“At least there will be a bit of conversation when people [see the mural] and ask why they did this, who authorized it and what [it means]. That will generate important spaces of exchange in pushing the country to eradicate racism,” Soto Cruz told El Nuevo Dia.