'Hands Off Our Ballots' Declares a Pop-up Mural in San Francisco

Two children help paint a mural that says 'Count Every Vote' on the pavement of Montgomery Street in San Francisco on Nov. 6, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

As election officials race to tally up the remaining ballots in several battleground states, about three dozen people gathered Friday in San Francisco's financial district to paint a very large picture.

"Count Every Ballot," they wrote with gallons of paint in a mural that stretched the entire length of the block — about 240 feet long and 22 feet wide.

Rev. Ranwa Hammamy (right) helps paint a mural on Montgomery Street in San Francisco on Nov. 6, 2020, calling for lawyers to renounce efforts to stop counting ballots in the presidential election.
Rev. Ranwa Hammamy (right) helps paint a mural on Montgomery Street in San Francisco on Nov. 6, 2020, calling for lawyers to renounce efforts to stop counting ballots in the presidential election. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

"We're here to demand that every vote be counted, that every voice matters," said Davida Sotelo Escobedo, a member of activist group Bay Resistance, which organized the event. "Right now, I think we're seeing these reactionary forces, these anti-democratic forces that want to roll back democracy, that want to silence our voices."

Since Tuesday, the Trump campaign has been working to slow, halt or contest the counting of ballots in states where the outcome of the election could be decided by only a few thousand votes. So far, the campaign has threatened legal challenges or demanded recounts in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada.

A woman paints a hand placing a ballot into a ballot box as part of a mural that stretches across one block of Montgomery Street in San Francisco on Nov. 6, 2020.
A woman paints a hand placing a ballot into a ballot box as part of a mural that stretches across one block of Montgomery Street in San Francisco on Nov. 6, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

The canvas chosen for Friday's temporary mural: the pavement of Montgomery Street, in front of the offices of the law firm Jones Day. The firm has served as outside counsel to President Donald Trump's reelection campaign.

"We wanted to make the public aware that they're attempting to tamper with our democracy and bring that to light through the mural," said artist and mural co-creator Sasha Wright.

The mural also depicts a hand depositing a ballot into a ballot box and the words: "Jones Day, Hands Off Our Ballots."

KQED could not confirm the extent of Jones Day's involvement in the current legal challenges to ballot counting, and the firm did not respond to a request for comment.

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Two children help paint a part of a street mural that reads "Hands Off Our Ballots" on Montgomery Street in San Francisco on Nov. 6, 2020.
Two children help paint a part of a street mural that reads 'Hands Off Our Ballots' on Montgomery Street in San Francisco on Nov. 6, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

The mural action is one of several rallies that Bay Resistance has organized to urge for the fair and thorough counting of ballots in every state. Both ends of the street were blocked to traffic, and police looked on during the event.

"It's really important that we don't rest until we actually are sure that there is going to be a democratic transition of power that reflects the will of the people in this country," Wright said.

Shortly after voting concluded on Tuesday, Trump falsely declared himself the victor, well before many ballots had been counted.

Miguel Davis paints a "Count Every Vote" mural on the pavement of Montgomery Street in San Francisco on Nov. 6, 2020.
Miguel Davis paints a "Count Every Vote" mural on the pavement of Montgomery Street in San Francisco on Nov. 6, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

In San Francisco, as adults and children painted with large brushes and rollers, Bay Resistance member Susan Kikuchi addressed the crowd.

"Black and brown people went out to the polls in record numbers ... to get this thing done in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of economic insecurity, our people went out there and they voted," Kikuchi said. "We're here to send a strong message to Trump and to Jones Day that they need to stand down."

The mural is painted with washable paint, but organizers hope the city will let it stay for a while.

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