On Friday morning, Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser hired workers from the Public Works department to paint a 50-foot mural that spells out “Black Lives Matter” on the street that leads to Lafayette Square and the White House.
“There are people who are craving to be heard and to be seen, and to have their humanity recognized, and we had the opportunity to send that message loud and clear on a very important street in our city,” Bowser said at a press conference. “And it is that message, and that message is to the American people, that Black Lives Matter black humanity matters, and we as a city raise that up as part of our values as a city.”
Bowser, who also renamed the area Black Lives Matter Plaza, said she took the action on behalf of the thousands in the streets. “There was a dispute this week about whose street this is,” added her chief of staff, referencing the teargassing-protesters-and-clergy-at-St.John’s-atrocity. “Mayor Bowser wanted to make it abundantly clear that this is DC’s street.”
Bowser had asked Trump earlier to remove “all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence” from the city, charging that their deployment was “adding to the grievances of those who, by and large, are peacefully protesting (for) reforms to the racist and broken systems that are killing Black Americans.”
The painting project was labeled as “a performative distraction from real policy changes” by Black Lives Matter DC, who in the past have criticized Bowser’s handling of police deadly-force cases and her reluctance to defund police. But many others are celebrating it as an act of good will and a vital tribute that marks progress.
“The symbolism is huge,” said Keyonna Jones, one of seven artists who worked on the painting. “We are saying it loud. We are here.”