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N4T Investigators: Taxpayer money funded Downtown Tucson BLM street mural

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TUCSON (KVOA) - The Black Lives Matter street mural in downtown Tucson was painted for free by volunteer artists but it still managed to rack up a big bill for taxpayers.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators uncovered an invoice that showed the City of Tucson supplied dozens of gallons of paint to those artists. The purchase was funded by taxpayer dollars.

On June 20, 2020, the City spent $1,774.82 on paint to support the controversial Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement through what was labeled on the invoice document as the City Manager Mural Project.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators were told that City Council Member Lane Santa Cruz's Office requested the funding for the paint which was then approved by Tucson City Manager, Mike Ortega.

So why did the City fund the mural with taxpayer dollars?

In a statement to News 4 Tucson, a spokesperson for Council Member Santa Cruz's Office said, "Council member Santa Cruz helped with the mural because someone asked for help, because Black Lives Matter, and because there is joy and healing in community."

Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik told News 4 Tucson, this decision was not thought through.

"It's not our money it's tax payer dollars," Kozachik said. "A couple of my colleagues need to learn that once you say yes you need to say yes to the next group."

Councilman Kozachik is referring to when Tucson Mayor Regina Romero denounced the painting of a thin blue line outside of the TPD headquarters.

News 4 Tucson also reached out to the City Manager late Friday evening for an explanation of why he agreed to approve the purchase but has not received a response as of yet.

Alexis Berdine

Alexis Berdine is an Investigative Multi-Media Journalist at KVOA.

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