Knoxville businesses react to controversy surrounding Black Lives Matter mural

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Business owners on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue are speaking out after a Black Lives Matter mural was painted on the street.

Beal Bourne owns Jarnigan and Son’s Mortuary, which sits right across the street from Austin-East High School; he says there are far worse things that could happen in the neighborhood.

“It’s just paint, it’s not blood.” Bourne said.

Bourne says he thinks the mural brought more unity than division.

“I’ve not had any negative comments about it. I saw all different colors of children out there and their parents working. It wasn’t just Black.” Bourne said.

Despite petitions against it, and local leaders calling for its removal, the people who actually work and spend significant time on Martin Luther King say they feel differently.

Jerrick Jones operates Just Blaze Hot Dog stand, right next to Austin-East High School. He says he thinks the mural is a good thing for the community.

“I think it’s a good start for us in the community. I think it’s a great start for East Knoxville, for Martin Luther King and it’s super cool for me.” Jones said.

The mural was originally started on July 3 without permission from the city. Organizers were not able to finish it in one day, but still moved forward with submitting the proper paperwork for approval. The City of Knoxville announced on July 10 that the permit was approved and organizers could move forward with finishing the mural.

Organizers plan to finish the mural the morning of Saturday, July 11.

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