Taking a stand
City residents, from left, Deaglan and Junuh Eblovi stand near where they want to paint "Black Lives Matter" in the City Hall parking lot. Adam Pardee / Review

Two young brothers are hoping to nudge the city of Half Moon Bay to join international efforts to promote equal rights and justice by painting “Black Lives Matter” in a prominent downtown parking area.

Junuh and Deaglan Eblovi, ages 12 and 13 respectively, made an impassioned plea for the symbolic installation during the July 21 City Council meeting. They suggested painting the now familiar phrase in the parking lot behind City Hall.

Junuh Eblovi said they got the idea after seeing a “Black Lives Matter” sign vandalized on the Coastal Trail near Roosevelt beach. They worked to restore that original sign and they wanted to do more.

Later, their father, David Eblovi, explained that the City Hall parking lot would be the perfect location for several reasons: Symbolically, it would be meaningful to see the words spread between Main Street and the historic jail building on Johnston Street, the closest business is in a building leased by his wife who would not object, and painting there avoided potential conflicts with other landowners.

The elder Eblovi said he would also like to see the City Council rename the drive something like “Black Lives Matter Way” as a permanent recognition of social justice efforts in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

The City Council received the request without comment on July 21. Elected officials usually don’t engage in any substantive back and forth following requests made during the public comment portion of their council agenda. City Manager Bob Nisbet later said the matter will be formally presented to the City Council at its Aug. 18 meeting.

“I think we’re going to try to accommodate it,” Nisbet said on Friday. “We’re going to try and work with his kids to do it.”

Many communities have painted “Black Lives Matter” on murals or across public roadways in recent weeks. Large letters have been painted in prominent locations in Washington D.C., New York City, San Francisco and other American cities.

The city of Palo Alto commissioned a “Black Lives Matter” street mural, but the process hasn’t gone as smoothly in another peninsula city. Activists, working with the permission of Redwood City, painted the words on a downtown stretch of the county seat. But when an attorney asked to paint “MAGA 2020” next to “Black Lives Matter,” the city washed off the existing letters and the local city council effectively washed its hands of any such public displays.

Nisbet said he is aware of the Redwood City experience and that the Half Moon Bay city attorney is researching the alternatives.

“Is this temporary, permanent, six months or whatever? I’m thinking about that,” Nisbet said. “We’ll have that conversation with the council.”

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