On Friday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser renamed an intersection in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza” to honor the demonstrators that have flooded D.C. streets in the last several days. 16th Street NW, between K and H streets, has been painted with the slogan “Black Lives Matter” in enormous yellow letters. The lettering stretches for two blocks.
Demonstrations calling for an end to police brutality and racial violence have taken place across the nation after the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by a police officer in Minneapolis. The section of the renamed street is located in front of Lafayette Park and has been the scene of such demonstrations. On Monday, protestors were forcibly removed by police from the area in order to make room for President Trump’s photo op.
Mayor Bowser has been at odds with the Trump administration’s proposed D.C. police takeover and wanted to make a statement about who D.C. truly belongs to. On Friday morning, she requested that President Trump remove federal troops, believing their presence to be inflammatory. On Twitter, Bowser’s chief of staff, John Falcicchio, wrote, “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 protested on Monday evening.”
Not all have reacted positively to the painting. Black Lives Matter D.C. has criticized the mayor’s actions, calling them “performative and a distraction from her active counter organizing to our demands.” There is a push for Bowser to cut funding for the police department as well as support demonstrators.
Protests have taken place for seven nights straight in D.C. and are anticipated to grow in size. D.C Police Department Chief Peter Newsham predicts Saturday’s demonstration to be one of the largest that the city has seen.
Sources: Washington Post 6/5/20; NBC Washington 6/5/20; The New York Times 6/2/20; CNN 6/5/20; WJLA 6/4/20