With the direction and approval of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, muralists painted “BLACK LIVES MATTER” in large yellow letters on16th Street, north of the White House, in Washington, D.C. Bowser also formally renamed this location Black Lives Matter Plaza.
What We Know:
- Across two streets in front of Lafayette Park, a site of protests over the past week against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death, a huge mural was painted, reading “Black Lives Matter”. The mural was created to honor demonstrators who have been peacefully protesting the past week.
- D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Friday that a section of 16th Street in front of the White House is now officially renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza NW. The project was finished Friday morning with the help of Bowser’s administration and the D.C. Department of Public Works.
- The new “Black Lives Matter Plz NW” sign is on 16th Street Northwest in front of the historic St. John’s Church. The site where, on Monday evening, federal officials fired gas at largely peaceful protesters to clear out the square before President Trump could walk over to the church for a photo op holding a bible, an act which Bowser called “shameful”.
- Bowser has taken a stance against President Trump’s recent call for an increase in the federal presence of law enforcement and the National Guard at protests throughout the city. On Twitter, Bowser advised that it “poses both safety and national security risks by inflaming demonstrators” and “adding to the grievances of mostly peaceful protesters”, calling for him to “withdraw all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence from Washington, D.C”.
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) June 5, 2020
- The mural was welcomed by some as a message of solidarity but has also faced some criticism from D.C.’s Black Lives Matter group, stating that the Mayor needs to focus on substantive changes to policing policies instead. Currently, her proposed budget “increases funding for traditional policing” and “cuts spending on programs to reduce violence through community-based intervention initiatives”. The group tweeted, “this is performative and a distraction from [Bowser’s] inaction and active counter organizing to our demands to decrease the police budget and invest in the community.”
This is performative and a distraction from her inaction and active counter organizing to our demands to decrease the police budget and invest in community. @FenitN
— BlackLivesMatter DC (@DMVBlackLives) June 5, 2020
Bowser concluded the unveiling by remarking, “in America, you can peacefully assemble, you can bring grievances to your government, and you can demand change”. The protests are expected to continue, with thousands of people expected to march in downtown D.C. on Saturday as the largest demonstration yet in the capital.