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The "DEFUND THE POLICE" message painted on Water Street is due to be removed on Friday, says Milwaukee's Department of Public Works. (PHOTO: WISN-TV)

DPW will erase "Defund the police" message from Water Street on Friday

On July 1, protesters painted "DEFUND THE POLICE" in huge letters in the southbound lanes of Water Street, facing City Hall, between Kilbourn Avenue and Wells Street.

On Thursday, the City of Milwaukee Dept. of Public Works issued a statement saying the message will be removed on Friday, July 10, because, "Serious traffic safety concerns have come to light as a result of the painted protest message on North Water Street."

Soon after the words were painted, they were altered to read "DEFEND THE POLICE," but painters quickly returned to undo that change.

Both the original painting and the alteration were widely covered in local, national and international news media.

After tonight, however, DPW says the painting will be history.

"The message painted on Water Street has been heard loud and clear by policy makers in city government, and the Department of Public Works has no intention to diminish the voices calling for change," said Commissioner of Public Works Jeff Polenske in the statement.

"Our concern for unauthorized street art including the current mural on Water Street is solely about safety."

Here is the rest of the DPW statement issued Thursday afternoon:

"The street mural takes up an entire block of the southbound lanes of Water Street and the display covers the street's traffic control pavement markings. Pavement markings provide guidance and information to motorists and are essential for a safe flow of traffic.

"It has also been observed that the paint is very slick when wet and we have observed vehicles having difficulty breaking and stopping when approaching the Wells Street traffic signal. We have observed and/or received complaints that the mural paint surface is problematic for vehicles ranging from bicycles and motorcycles to buses when it rains.

"Due to these concerns, the City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works (DPW) is scheduled to remove the mural on N. Water Street between E. Wells Street and E. Kilbourn Avenue on Friday, July 10."

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