Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Ingenious Petition Now Circulating to Cover Public Square Jersey Barriers With Berlin-Wall-Style Graffiti

Posted By on Fri, Nov 9, 2018 at 10:27 AM

click to enlarge CHANGE.ORG
A petition appeared this morning on which invites Clevelanders to take a page out of West Berlin's playbook and cover the concrete jersey barriers on Public Square with graffiti.

"We're a city that prides itself on claiming it can solve every problem with a mural," the petition notes, "so why not this one?"

The petition, which Scene enthusiastically endorses, may seem like a joke. But it's also an indictment of the petty lethargy and vindictiveness of Mayor Frank Jackson, who installed the jersey barriers in March of last year when he relented to mounting activist pressure and the threat of a loan repayment by the Federal Transit Administration and opened the Square's strip of Superior Avenue to RTA buses, in accordance with a $50 million redesign.

"These do nothing," a transit activist told Scene at the time, when asked about the barriers. "They're there for the city to prove that they were right all along, and that any kind of solution to bring buses to the Square will be completely ugly. It's ugly by design, so that people will say let's go back to how it was."

There have been plans to remove the barriers, but it's unclear what progress has been made. The barriers stem from Jackson's stated fears about terrorism, but they totally defy his preference for a beautiful public space. The Q is supposed to be Cleveland's living room, remember, and Public Square is supposed to be our front lawn.

From the petition:

In August 2017, the Group Plan Commission, which oversees Public Square, and James Corner Field Operations, which designed it, pledged to develop a permanent plan to replace these unsightly, so-called safety features by the end of 2017. In June of this year (just 6 months past their deadline), the Group Plan Commission released a plan to remove the jersey barriers and install bollards at a cost of $2 million. Yet, 5 months after this plan was released and 20 months after the Square reopened to buses, the jersey barriers, planters, and makeshift ramps remain, with no end in sight.
As with the Berlin Wall itself, which separated East Berlin from West Berlin during the Cold War, the graffiti project would be an act of defiance and reclamation. It would both enliven what is now a grim and unsightly strip of Superior and it would also, no doubt, infuriate the administration. The outcomes, then, as predicted by the petition, seem more or less on target.

"Either the City gives in and removes them, unifying the space, or Public Square will further cement (pun intended) its status as a hub for free speech and artistic expression."

Let's do it.  

Tags: , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

April 7, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation