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A mural that celebrates diversity in Rush City is under a microscope by city officials, who threatened the business owners responsible with legal action if it's not removed.

The mural, located at Hairdo or Dye Salon at 237 W. 4th St., shows six fists of different skin tones rising above flowers on the side of the business. The artwork was authorized by the salon's business owners, Erin and Jason Oare, and designed and painted by Pine City artist Peg Skalicky

A zoning violation dated Oct. 26 was sent to the Oares, ordering the mural be removed by Saturday, Nov. 5. If it isn't removed, they could face a misdemeanor criminal charge that potentially includes a fine up to $1,000 or up to 90 days in jail.

But Mayor Dan Dahlberg is asking the council to reconsider their request, citing a "deficiency" in the city's code.

"Looks like the city doesn’t like our paint job as much as everyone else does. Sounds like we are in for a little battle," Erin Oare said in a Facebook post. She argues the city doesn't currently have an explicitly stated mural ordinance or paint standard and haven't addressed any other businesses in the same matter.

Erin told Bring Me The News they wanted to bring something to the community that better represents everyone.

"With the demolition of the building that used to be next to the salon, we now had a perfect canvas for something beautiful. We wanted to bring a message of inclusiveness to the community. Something that represents everyone and brings us together. It was also really important to us that people who aren’t always well-represented could see themselves in a space where they normally wouldn’t. The artist did an amazing job bringing our message to life."

Jason Oare called for the city to rescind the violation.

"Since the mayor is saying in his own response there is some deficiencies in the city code, we believe the city needs to IMMEDIATELY rescind this violation notice," he said.

Dahlberg said he's asking the city council for an "open conversation" about addressing the city code in a public statement.

"Per our interpretation of the Code, anything that is not explicitly permitted is considered prohibited. Clearly, this piece of art has sparked an important conversation in our community and provides an opportunity for us to address the deficiency in the Code," he said, adding "At a personal level, I believe the mural is a well-done piece of artwork and deserves more positive attention."

Erin said that no other murals currently exist within city limits.

Some locals have shared their distaste for the city's reaction to the artwork on social media.

"This just chaps my a**! I'm sorry but how about the 'city' focus more on the crimes in the area rather than pick on a business owner who chose to make the area look more presentable! We LOVE the mural, it changes that spot for the better," one person commented on Facebook.

"I love it! I wish more (although there's not many left) businesses in town would do this. People drive all over the world to see murals on buildings. Rush City doesn't ever seem to want positive growth. Pretty sad," another person wrote.

The Oares said they have received a lot of continued support from others and are thankful for the response.

A community event, "Save the Wall," has been created for supporters to show up at the business on Saturday.

A city council meeting has beens scheduled on Nov. 7 at 4:30 p.m. to discuss the matter.

Screenshot 2022-11-02 at 3.43.37 PM

Bring Me The News reached out to the city council and mayor for comment on Wednesday.

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