Crosswalks painted before Battle Creek pride event

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — A project to paint rainbow crosswalks in Battle Creek ahead of pride events led to demonstrations Monday.

The City of Battle Creek granted Battle Creek Pride permission to paint rainbow crosswalks at West Van Buren Street and Capital Avenue. Contractors worked throughout the day to paint the intersection.

Meanwhile, demonstrators gathered to protest both for and against the project. A woman who does not support the crosswalks would not provide a name but said she would like the city to remove the paint.

“This shouldn’t be painted at all. This should be white just like every other crosswalk in town. This is actually a distraction to drivers,” the woman said.

battle creek pride sidewalks painted protester
A woman protests the rainbow crosswalks painted by Battle Creek Pride. (July 8, 2019)

People demonstrating against the walkways say they promote topics of sexuality in a place with children. There are two churches at the intersection, St. Philip Roman Catholic Church and St. Thomas Episcopal Church, as well as a school administration building and a library.

“These children have to walk to Mass and wonder what do these colors mean and then they have to be explained of what those colors mean and then they’re going to Mass and they’re being taught the opposite of what these colors mean,” the woman said.

According to Deana Spencer, the president of Battle Creek Pride, the rainbow is meant to promote acceptance and inclusiveness.

“It’s simply some colorful paint on a street. You can explain or not explain to your children anything that you want,” Spencer said. “If you don’t feel that you want to explain who we are then just tell them it’s just a rainbow color on the street.”

The paint project was planned ahead of July pride events in the city. A parade is scheduled to pass by the intersection later this month.

“I would hope that people would do some research or have a dialog with us, find out who we really are. We’re not really different from anybody else,” Spencer said.

Brian McDavid with Ace Parking Lot Striping, the company hired to complete the project, has painted rainbows for years across West Michigan and could not believe the response in Battle Creek.

“I knew when we did this it would catch a lot of attention but this is more attention than Kalamazoo or any other place I’ve done,” McDavid said.

Battle Creek Pride says the rainbow crosswalks are scheduled to be up through the end of July and is looking into making them a permanent.

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