By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jul 09, 2020 at 4:31 PM

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."

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.