Battle brewing over 'Black Lives Matter' art on Fairlington Bridge

Efforts by an Arlington community to support Black Lives Matter has led to confrontations, calls to police, and even conspiracy theories.

Neighbors have posted signs and messages on what’s commonly known as the Fairlington Bridge over Interstate 395. But, as first reported by ARL Now, some have not taken kindly to it.

“We have confronted people destroying the messages that we’ve been putting up,” said Jessica Ward, who lives in the neighborhood. “That confrontation has been met with threats, verbal threats and really, like, fear for people’s safety.”

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Ward and others are trying to name the bridge “Black Lives Matter Bridge,” and a petition to do that had garnered nearly 1,000 signatures as of Wednesday night.

Also on Wednesday, the fence on the bridge had colorful plastic ties spelling BLM on both sides, visible to those driving on the interstate. But there have been other signs hung up, including several promoting conspiracy theories about Marilyn Monroe, Bill Gates, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Arlington police say they’ve taken reports about vandalism after TRUMP and TRUMP 2020 was spray-painted on the bridge and in the neighborhood.

Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said it’s not legal for anyone to put up messages, signs, or art on the bridge.

Garvey has been supportive of the Black Lives Matter Bridge messages on social media, but said that eventually county maintenance workers will take everything down.

“It’s not like we take down some things and leave up some things,” said Garvey. “You have to be treating it equally because that’s how the First Amendment works.”

She said the bridge name change idea is something the county board would consider once they receive a formal request.