Trouble Getting a BLM Street Mural Approved


The Birmingham, AL community has been trying (and failing) to get a BLM street mural approved in our city. I have taken charge of submitting the mural, because I can submit pre-taken photos through Ingress. Unfortunately, reviewers are finding every reason under the sun to try to knock this nomination, and it is getting frustrating. There are 2 main reasons why the nomination is getting knocked: the image being taken from a 3rd party and that the mural is seasonal. To try to make this as good of a nomination as possible, a local player took their drone to take the main image for this nomination. There is a lack of publicly-accessible places to get reasonable elevation to get a picture of the entire mural. The mural is surrounded by a park with flat ground on one side, and businesses/apartments on the other side, with no public access to an elevation with a good vantage point. The mural can still be easily seen from the sidewalk, it is just hard to get a good picture of it as a pedestrian. Regardless, a local player who takes a picture via a drone, and does not publish it elsewhere would not count as an image taken from a 3rd party source, right? I even tried to take a picture of the picture to try to artificially lower its quality and make it look more like an amateur photo, and it was still knocked for being 3rd party. There certainly are similar images, but the exact image used was not taken from a website. Attached is the image my friend gave me, as well as the supporting photo that I took at street level:

Next is the seasonality of the mural. This mural was painted on June 18th, and it still stands today, almost 3 months later. I have looked through online article after article, and have found no information regarding that the mural will be taken down, let alone a date of when that would happen. So, while I have no direct evidence that the mural is to be permanent, just as well, there is no evidence that the mural will be taken down any time soon. Instead, the mural is even registered on Wikipedia's list of BLM murals: Notably, many murals on this list have been stated that they are temporary, or have already been removed, but there is no mention of the Birmingham mural being temporary. It really seems like this mural is here to stay, at least for a while. If the mural ever does get removed, then its Waypoint can be removed too, if it ever actually gets approved.

Listed below are top Google hits for "birmingham blm mural" to give more information about the mural, as well as proof that that the submission image was not taken from one of these sites (and it was not taken from any site):

As additional information, the following is the Waypoint description and supporting information used in my most recent attempt:


This mural serves as a beacon to stand behind black lives; that hate and bigotry have no place in our city. The mural was painted on June 18th, 2020 in celebration of Juneteenth. It was painted to bring a brighter future to Birmingham.

Supporting information:

This is the third time that we are trying to submit this. This is a permanent mural display with pedestrian access via sidewalk. The main image was taken by a friend via drone, and was not taken via a 3rd party website. Please stand in solidarity with us and push this through, it has a culturally significant message.

I'm afraid that part of why this is being rejected is because of the message of the mural and the audience that I am catering to. I am at the mercy of local southerner reviewers. Niantic's voting algorithm is fairly well hidden, but it does seem like all it takes is a handful of voters to tank a nomination. I have a feeling that if the topic of the mural wasn't BLM, I would be having a significantly easier time getting it approved. There are people who do not stand with the BLM movement, and if they have the power to vote on nominations, their biases may override that they are voting on a street mural.

Additionally, I would love to give my whole argument for why I think this nomination should be approved. I am limited by character limits in the submission GUI. I would appreciate if anyone would be able to assist with being able to at least condense my arguments for why this is not seasonal and the image is not from a 3rd party.


  • flatmatt-PGOflatmatt-PGO Posts: 1,185 ✭✭✭✭✭

    First the easiest thing to address: I don't think there's any chance of it getting through with a drone image. You can explain it all you want, but people are still going to think you took it from another source. A photo like this one (taken from one of the articles you linked) should be good enough:

    But I think that still leaves a couple issues with this as a nomination. It's painted in a street. Is the street permanently closed, and if so can you provide evidence of that? Or are there going to be cars driving down this street? If the street is open, then I would be most concerned with pedestrian access. I know you say in the supporting info that it has pedestrian access via the sidewalk, but being on the sidewalk near the mural isn't the same as being on the mural.

    Then there's the permanence issue. If the street is closed to cars, that would help. But without any evidence one way or the other, it's up to interpretation whether it's permanent or temporary. I also see that the second article you linked includes the line "While paint isn’t permanent, Fitzwater hopes the sentiment will be" toward the end.

    I would love this to become a wayspot if it's eligible, but I think there's still definitely some question about whether it's eligible.

  • DukeOfBellaire-PGODukeOfBellaire-PGO Posts: 74 ✭✭✭

    I cannot recall if this is the location or similar high-quality BLM nomination that came in my review. It was a long thoughtful process and a difficult decision. No doubt, it's an important topic we all must come to terms with United States' ugly past into this day.

    A couple of things besides the obvious about pedestrian access and a temporary display.

    1. It's controversial
    2. It sparks political discord or reconciliation in ideal
    3. In USA, it's still considered impolite to bring up politics and when one does, one must be prepared for backlash
    4. The emotions about BLM and opposing groups may be too intense or uncomfortable
    5. If this BLM nomination gets approved, then opposing forces could say, a Nazi or Confederate mural should be approved, as well
    6. Video game business should remain apolitical, see #3, above
  • FrealafGB-PGOFrealafGB-PGO Posts: 354 ✭✭✭✭

    I think you have a better chance to get it approved by taking the picture from the ground, because it removes one reason for a rejection. Maybe try to line it up so you can see the B in full as much as possible, and some of the L, etc. What you can then do is try to submit the drone image at a later date once you get the waypoint approved, because people who are actually at the location can vote on their favourite and they will know its really there and what it would look like from above - they would probably select the drone image at that point as being their favourite. You could use the drone image as the supporting info too, with those links?

    I highly doubt that people are rejecting because of what it is. I think its the doubt of seeing photo that can't be taken from within a game (likely to reject for 3rd party photo), plus the way its on a road (likely to reject for safe access), new (so always subject to the temporary issue, or even location based rejections because no street view).

    Try to give people something familiar to vote on and hope you can get it through, then edit later to get the fantatic drone imagine accepted as a 2nd stage..

  • FrealafGB-PGOFrealafGB-PGO Posts: 354 ✭✭✭✭

    Calling something temporary because "the street will eventually be repaved" is really overkill in my opinion. Temporary is surely not supposed to refer to something that will probably be there for several years. Maybe when the road is re-done it will be re-painted? Local wayfarers can edit or remove as needed if something changes. Worrying about the potential for roadworks is not the concern of reviewers.

  • FrealafGB-PGOFrealafGB-PGO Posts: 354 ✭✭✭✭

    They said the submissions were rejected for seasonal/temporary and 3rd party picture. I agree that the road may be an issue (although it may be a pedestrian zone and be fine - I am not familiar with the area), but that wasn't the issue they were posting about. If the mural kept being rejected for pedestrian access then this topic probably wouldn't be here because the issue would be pretty obvious and not able to be resolved with any nomination improvements.

  • DukeOfBellaire-PGODukeOfBellaire-PGO Posts: 74 ✭✭✭

    I was one of the reviewers. It was a difficult and thoughtful analysis and I wrote a long descriptive answer to this, but it was not posted here. I guess they didn't like one word.

    The bottom line is: the video game business should remain apolitical. It's not a good idea to push this again because if you do, then the opposing group could ague that their ______ mural should be included, as well.

  • BattleTARDIS-PGOBattleTARDIS-PGO Posts: 44 ✭✭✭

    I don’t think it’s overkill. It’s a fact. Streets need to be repaved or they deteriorate. This is particularly true in Alabama where asphalt tends to melt and then is subject to large amounts of rain causing rapid deterioration. Then there is the certainty that this display was not officially permitted by the city since it violates federal department of transportation guidelines. Anyway you look at it, it’s a temporary display. Paint it on the side of a building with the owner’s consent and you would have my vote, except that I don’t live anywhere near there so it probably wouldn’t appear in my nominations to review. The point being, painted on the street, it’s temporary. Painted on a building it’s not.

  • FrealafGB-PGOFrealafGB-PGO Posts: 354 ✭✭✭✭

    Yeah, Niantic have been quite clear that they support the BLM campaign.

  • FrealafGB-PGOFrealafGB-PGO Posts: 354 ✭✭✭✭

    I must have got the country wrong, as there is a Birmingham in the UK too! My mistake.

    In the UK, streets last for many years and don't get replaced every few months, and you'd have to get approval from the council to paint this sort of thing in the first place so it would have had permission. We also have lots of pedestrian zones and "shared spaces" are becoming more popular where pedestrians, bikes and cars can use the same road. I didn't realise that this was a US submission and clearly you have very different towns to us and a more active road maintenance!

  • cyndiepooh-INGcyndiepooh-ING Posts: 614 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have no idea how they pick the reasons they chose give you in the rejection emails. I try to take them with a grain of salt.

    The number one reason for me to reject this is that it's a road. A road is not a safe place for pedestrians to be. The number two reason is that it is temporary. It will be paved or painted over sooner rather than later. The stories you linked also indicate it was done for the Juneteenth Celebration, so that is another reason to call it temporary. I suspect that the drone footage is what got the 3rd party flag since you obviously didn't get that with your cell phone in your hand, even if it was submitted as supporting information.

    I have complained in this forum before about wanting to see the actual reasons my submissions were rejected rather than stuff that doesn't make sense, but my post was not well received. In any case, I don't think that this road mural will ever go through. I do hope a permanent display is set up featuring the artist and the art that can be submitted. This is an important time in history.

  • DukeOfBellaire-PGODukeOfBellaire-PGO Posts: 74 ✭✭✭

    I want to clarify that anything besides the nomination should be discussed elsewhere. Understandably, this is a hot topic. I was on the Diversity Counsel with the executive management with one of the largest employer in the state and friends of all diverse backgrounds in PoGo.

    Please re-read my last sentence, above. I think Niantic rejected it because of legal issues.

    The BLM nomination is beautiful, temporary, and controversial.

  • AlbaBydand-PGOAlbaBydand-PGO Posts: 1 ✭✭

    First thing, I'm commenting from Europe so I'm bringing a completely different perspective.

    The main issue here is safe access and I do believe that this is entirely safe as the mural can be viewed in its entirety from the safety of the sidewalk. The idea that you have to be standing ON the road to access the mural is ludicrous in the extreme. If there is a mural on the side of a building, you do not have to be standing on the side of the building to view it access it. Where stops feature an architecturally interesting feature high up on a building, nobody in their right mind would suggest that you have to climb up the building to view and access the POI.

    There are many stops which feature buildings set back from sidewalks yet the POI waypoint is usually located at an entrance gate on the sidewalk and so it is safely and publicly accessible.

    As the sidewalk is close enough to allow safe viewing and access of the mural then it should not be rejected on grounds of safe access.

    As an outsider looking into America, these rejections and excuses just stink of polutical and racist opposition to the BLM movement.

    On that point, you will find it extremely difficult to pass in such a divided community. If such a mural was being assessed hers as a POI, I have no doubt that it would be accepted. I guess you just have to keep trying until it finally gets accepted.

  • flatmatt-PGOflatmatt-PGO Posts: 1,185 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Ignoring your baseless accusations, that is not the definition of pedestrian access that Niantic has adopted for Wayfarer. You have to be close enough to "touch" the wayspot (or directly above/below the wayspot). Being able to view the wayspot from nearby is not enough.

  • Theisman-INGTheisman-ING Posts: 1,000 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I suggest you re familiarise yourself with the rules regarding safe access.

    Niantic state "Note that it is not sufficient to be able to access the nomination from a nearby sidewalk. There must be a pedestrian walkway or a trail leading all the way to the object"

  • spiesr-INGspiesr-ING Posts: 275 ✭✭✭✭

    It obscures the actual traffic markings on the street. So unless the street is permanently closed those will have to be repainted at some point. (Not to mention the speed at which regular vehicle traffic will wear away at the mural.)

  • GearGlider-INGGearGlider-ING Posts: 1,296 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I've lived places where street murals like this were upkept and permanent. It's not hard.

    Why do you keep making new points instead of sticking to and defending your old ones?


    if politics were an issue in submitting waypoints, a lot of portals would be in question.

    Besides, the reason why waypoints are nominated because it should have cultural significance.

  • Nadiwereb-PGONadiwereb-PGO Posts: 1,056 ✭✭✭✭✭

    If you go by this logic, almost everything is temporary, including all murals and street art. IMO temporary means that it's intended to be removed in the foreseeable future.

    That being said, I do have doubts about the pedestrian access of this PoI. It is, after all, on the street itself.

  • Faversham71-INGFaversham71-ING Posts: 306 ✭✭✭✭

    My only concern is the location. Unless the road is pedestrianised it's ineligible on location as no part appears to be on a sidewalk.

  • Edocsil47-PGOEdocsil47-PGO Posts: 150 ✭✭✭✭
    edited September 2020

    While there might be some small subset of reviewers that would reject this for "political" reasons, it's worth pointing out that Niantic is not afraid of showing their support for Black Lives Matter.

    One very obvious example of this was when the CEO put out a letter of actions Niantic would take to support the black community.

    And then there's the literal Black Lives Matter item that they added to Ingress.

    Reject is for pedestrian access? Yeah I agree it probably should be. But the notion that Niantic would personally reject this because they don't want to upset the racists is absurd.

  • NonEMusDingo-PGONonEMusDingo-PGO Posts: 11 ✭✭

    I apologize for being so late to the party. I did not see any notifications regarding the post. I was also checking back at Wayfarer for a few days, and never saw that this post actually came through (I think I submitted it during the week off that Niantic employees had). Anyway, I appreciate the discussion and points made so far. Here is my insight regarding what has been mentioned so far.

    Pedestrian access - I see where people are saying the reject it based on lack of pedstrian access, both on common sense and Niantic's definition (which do not align completely in my opinion, but that is not what this is about). I will go off of Niantic's definition regarding a path needing to lead right up to it. First, there are sidewalks on either side of the mural. That alone should be close enough. You don't stand in wall when you look at a mural on a wall, you stand next to it. You don't climb on a statue or jump in a fountain, you stand next to those to observe. You can do the exact same when looking at this mural from the sidewalk. The sidewalk is the path leading up to the mural. Additionally, I don't think there was any mention of the two crosswalks that help encompass the mural. These would also be paths that give you a very clear view of the mural (where pedestrians have the right of way). There is nothing stopping you from crossing the street multiple times.

    There was mention of whether the road being closed or not. The road currently is not closed (it was for about the first month of the mural, and has been reopened to traffic since). I don't think this should invalidate the mural though, as it can safely be observed from the sidewalk and crosswalks. I guess it just comes down to semantics. As the submitter, I am biased, but I do believe that being able to stand on the sidewalk (where you literally can reach out an touch the mural) is enough for being pedestrian-accessible. If possible, I would greatly appreciate to know what Niantic employees specifically think regarding this submission with regard to their guidelines. There is clearly a divide in how the community is interpreting how Niantic has pedestrian access defined.

    Mural permanence - I have seen some good discussion here too. To update, about 3.5 months after being painted, the mural is still standing. As far as I can find, there has not been any discussion regarding removal of the mural. Conversely, I have not seen work about restoring it. In this case though, I think it is fair to lean on the side of permanence, and leave it to Birmingham players to remove the waypoint if/when the mural is removed. It should not fall on non-local reviewers to make their own speculations. The truth is that it is simply not public knowledge, regarding the fate of the mural, but the current trend points towards to the mural being around for the long haul.

    Submission image - I see and appreciate the feedback here, this is something where I will change in the future. I guess it may just be too hard to convince people that a friend of mine did indeed take the picture, rather than some other source. It is just something that people will try to knock the submission on. I will make both submission images my own from the street level, and will later try to upload that drone picture after we get this approved.

    Political charge - I greatly appreciate everyone who posted how Niantic has already made a public stand to support BLM and that politics should not be removed from the game. While this submission is not purely meant to be political, it undeniably has tones that are involved in an issue that has become political. It would be beyond ignorant to say that history and culture is devoid of politics, and history and culture is exactly what Niantic wants in their waypoints. Regardless whether you agree with the message or not, this is a very culturally significant message for these times as we watch history unfold. The fact that there are people who disagree with the message or want it hidden only further shows how culturally significant this message is. This is especially true in a southern city with a lot of civil rights history, like Birmingham.

    I will close with this. I just got yet another rejection for this submission (I did not see the critique here when I submitted this). I think it very concerning that the rejection reasons this time was literally just a period. However, I will take the critique here into account, and will keep pushing.

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