Story at a glance
- Painters started on the project early Friday morning.
- A street sign labelled "Black Lives Matter Plaza" was installed on a lamp post outside St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House.
- The group Black Lives Matter DC reacted to the street painting, calling it a performative distraction from real policy changes.
The city of Washington, D.C., is sending a clear message on the road leading to the White House.
A section of 16th Street in front of the White House, just blocks from where protesters have gathered for days to demonstrate against police brutality after the death of George Floyd, has been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza, and was painted early Friday morning with large yellow letters spelling out the name of the movement.
Breonna Taylor, on your birthday, let us stand with determination.— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) June 5, 2020
Determination to make America the land it ought to be. pic.twitter.com/XOfu6CGEGY
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The huge yellow letters stretch across 16th Street NW between H and K streets, and take up the width of a two-lane road. Painters reportedly started on the project after being contacted by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D).
A street sign labelled "Black Lives Matter Plaza" was also installed on a lamp post outside St. John's Episcopal Church, where law enforcement used pepper spray to clear peaceful protesters Monday to allow for President Trump to stage a photo-op with aides and administration officials.
There was a dispute this week about whose street this is. Mayor Bowser wanted to make it abundantly clear that this is DC’s street and to honor demonstrators who peacefully protesting on Monday evening. https://t.co/bjdVXLUf12— John J. Falcicchio #StayHomeDC (@falcicchio) June 5, 2020
The group Black Lives Matter DC reacted to the street painting, saying the mayor should cut the budget for D.C. police and “invest in the community” instead
“This is a performative distraction from real policy changes,” the group said on Twitter, adding “Black Lives Matter means defund the police.”
The move by the mayor comes amid a continuing feud with Trump. In a letter Thursday, Bowser formally asked Trump to “withdraw all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence from Washington, D.C.”
“The deployment of federal law enforcement personnel and equipment are inflaming demonstrators and adding to the grievances of those who, by and large, are peacefully protesting for change and for reforms to the racist and broken systems that are killing Black Americans,” Bowser said in the letter.
Trump fired back on Friday in a tweet.
“The incompetent Mayor of Washington, D.C., @MayorBowser, who’s budget is totally out of control and is constantly coming back to us for ‘handouts’, is now fighting with the National Guard, who saved her from embarrassment over the last number of nights. If she doesn’t treat these men and women well, then we’ll bring in a different group of men and women!” Trump tweeted.
Days of demonstrations have taken place outside the White House following Floyd’s death as a result of an arrest by Minneapolis officers.
National Guardsmen have descended on the city and Trump put active duty troops on standby to potentially play a role in helping curb protests, which grew violent over the weekend but have largely remained peaceful since.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper sent home active duty soldiers who had been on standy in Washington, D.C.