Thursday, July 9, 2020

D.C. Paints Massive Display of ‘Black Lives Matter’ on Street Leading to White House

City officials in Washington, DC, have painted “Black Lives Matter” in massive lettering on a portion of 16th street in front of the White House ahead of this weekend’s protests, with Mayor Muriel Bowser officially declaring the area “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”

Photos and videos show city workers painting “Black Lives Matter” with bright yellow paint on the street, stretching from sidewalk to sidewalk:

#BlackLivesMatterpic.twitter.com/OQg6977n5r

— Muriel Bowser #StayHomeDC (@MurielBowser) June 5, 2020

New York Times reporter Emily Badger observed that workers were using “the same paint the city uses to stripe road lanes”:

Holy cow. The city of DC is out here on 16th steeet behind the White House painting BLACK LIVES MATTER onto the streets — that it owns — stretching all the way to k Street. pic.twitter.com/PU7DW7XZHu

— Emily Badger (@emilymbadger) June 5, 2020

This is a Department of Public Works project, and some of the city employees here include sanitation workers who were downtown overnight cleaning the streets and stayed off the clock this morning to help paint. https://t.co/0nmE9VmoWY

— Emily Badger (@emilymbadger) June 5, 2020

This is the same paint the city uses to stripe road lanes.

That’s not… temporary sidewalk chalk.

— Emily Badger (@emilymbadger) June 5, 2020

Happening now: Painting “Black Lives Matter” on 16th Street in front of the @WhiteHousepic.twitter.com/doLOW3VpEc

— Nikki Schwab (@NikkiSchwab) June 5, 2020

“The section of 16th street in front of the White House is now officially ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza,’” Bowser said alongside a video showing a worker putting up a new sign, symbolically renaming the street:

The section of 16th street in front of the White House is now officially “Black Lives Matter Plaza”. pic.twitter.com/bbJgAYE35b

— Mayor Muriel Bowser #StayHomeDC (@MayorBowser) June 5, 2020

The display comes as Bowser demands President Trump to remove all “extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence” in the city.

“We are well equipped to handle large demonstrations and First Amendment activities,” Bowser said, warning that such heavy presence “can breed dangerous confusion”:

I request that @realDonaldTrump withdraw all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence from our city. pic.twitter.com/AvaJfQ0mxP

— Mayor Muriel Bowser #StayHomeDC (@MayorBowser) June 5, 2020

Trump relieved Bowser of command of law enforcement on Monday following a violent night of protests erupting in the streets of the city Sunday. The historic St. John’s Episcopal Church caught fire during the chaotic protests but was ultimately spared of lasting damage.

“What happened in this city last night was a total disgrace,” the president said during Monday’s Rose Garden address.

“As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property,” he added.

Such action calmed the streets in the days following.

It remains unclear why protesters are seemingly sending the message specifically to Trump, who has disavowed racism and white supremacy and whose administration has championed black leadership, restored investments in historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), made progress on criminal justice reform, and paved the way for the black unemployment rate to drop to a record low.

“In every field, every generation, and every calling, African-Americans have lifted up our nation to new heights — and, like all citizens, you are entitled to a government that puts your needs, your interests, and your families first,” Trump said during a February meeting with black leaders, many of whom prayed over him.

Trump has described George Floyd’s death as “very sad and tragic” and vowed that “justice will be served.”

Hannah Bleau

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