Sign up For DC 37 News


Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Local 1455 paints BLM murals


Crews of Traffic Device Maintainers (TDMs) in Local 1455 laid the groundwork for five, official Black Lives Matter murals on major boulevards and roadways around New York City.

Local 1455 members employed at the DOT Sign Shop in Maspeth, Queens, made and hung street signs at the thoroughfares officially co-named for the social justice movement.

As in Washington, D.C., where a Black Lives Matter mural paves the road to the White House, Mayor Bill de Blasio and elected officials in June ordered the New York City Department of Transportation and the Public Design Commission to add the street art as a part of a societal shift toward more inclusive dialogue on race and policing.

“The DOT paint crews are incredibly talented,” said Mike DeMarco, Local 1455 President. “The work required to produce these murals is meticulously measured out and all done by hand. It’s all manual labor and really creative.” DOT workers installed five official murals, one in each city borough.

The DOT crew of 18 to 20 essential workers crafted the designs and barricaded the designated streets, safely taping off outlines of the huge lettering. “With the COVID-19 pandemic, these essential workers took added safety precautions, working in staggered shifts, one person to a truck,” DeMarco explained.

Using yellow traffic paint, TDMs cut-in the installation before volunteers, artists, and politicians filled in the rest as part of peaceful community events honoring the Black Lives Matter movement.

“The TDMs doubled back to clean up, remove the tape, and make corrections where people left footprints and paint spills, so the final projects are professional and perfectly done,” DeMarco said.

New York City has eight street murals in total. TDMs painted five, including the most controversial BLM mural on Fifth Avenue in midtown at Trump Tower.

TDMs also painted murals at Richmond Terrace on Staten Island; Jamaica Avenue in Queens; Joralemon Street in Brooklyn; and Morris Avenue in the Bronx.

Local artists created BLM murals in Harlem on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. Like the BLM murals at Foley Square and Fulton Street in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, these reflect local artistry and cultural symbolism.

“I am very proud of the dedication and hard work of Local 1455 members, especially in this extraordinary climate of uncertainty, unrest, and profound loss of life,” DeMarco said.