TAMPA, Fla. - A mural in downtown Tampa is drawing praise and criticism. Organizers say they want to show their support for law enforcement, but they may have been a little over-eager because they painted it before officially getting a permit.
Many critics say the mural flies in the face of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The ‘Back the Blue’ street mural was painted by a group of 40 people Saturday night outside the Tampa Police Department's downtown headquarters. The group said they wanted to improve police morale.
Kelli Campbell, who helped organize the mural painting, says it was all about showing support for law enforcement.
“We want to make sure that they know just because we aren’t the loudest, doesn’t mean we aren’t there and in numbers. There’s a huge force. Our Back the Blue Florida group has 5,000 members in it, and that’s just a piece of the puzzle, of course.”
Though completed Saturday night, the permit to paint the mural wasn’t approved by the city.
Campbell says they got verbal approval from Mayor Jane Castor’s office, but the mayor’s spokesperson says the city was working through the formal process, and it wasn’t completed.
FOX reached out to Castor’s office regarding the permit and the former police chief sent us a statement that reads, “Any tribute to honor their service is welcome. It’s unfortunate they didn’t see the permitting process through so that our community could participate in showing their appreciation for the brave men and women that service our residents every day.”
The two groups heading the project were Back the Blue Florida and Community Patriots of Tampa. An aerial view of the mural shows the words were written in white, light blue, and dark blue colors. A blue heart and U.S. flag were also incorporated.