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Mayor inaugurates ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza’ in DC with giant yellow letters

Issued on: 06/06/2020 – 12:20Modified: 06/06/2020 – 12:20

Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser declared part of a street that runs near the White House "Black Lives Matter Plaza" on Friday, inaugurating the new plaza with giant yellow letters and a brand-new street sign.

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The city of Washington capped nearly a week of demonstrations against police brutality Friday by painting the words Black Lives Matter in enormous bright yellow letters on the street leading to the White House, a highly visible display of the local government's embrace of a protest movement that has put it even further at odds with President Donald Trump.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said the painting by city workers and local artists that spans two blocks is intended to send a message of support and solidarity to Americans outraged over the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

It comes as the mayor has sparred with Trump over the response to the protests and as D.C. prepared for a demonstration on Saturday that was expected to bring tens of thousands of people into a city still under coronavirus restrictions.

“We know whats going on in our country. There is a lot of anger. There is a lot of distrust of police and the government," the mayor said at a news conference. “There are people who are craving to be heard and to be seen and to have their humanity recognized. We had the opportunity to send that message loud and clear on a very important street in our city.”

The letters and an image of the city's flag stretch across the entire width of 16th Street to the north of Lafayette Square. The mural ends near St. John's Episcopal Church, where Trump staged a photo-op on Monday after officers in riot gear fired tear gas and charged demonstrators to make way for the president and his entourage.

A sign now identifies that section of 16th Street near the White House as “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”

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Bowser has complained about the heavy-handed federal response to the protests and called for the removal of out-of-state National Guard troops.

She says the differences with the Trump administration highlight the need for the District of Columbia to be a state and have more control over its affairs. They may also reflect the fact that Trump is deeply unpopular in the district, where Hillary Clinton won about 90% of the vote in the 2016 presidential election.

While not addressing the painted mural, Trump continued his attacks on Bowser in tweets Friday.

“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 great embarrassment over the last number of nights," he tweeted. "If she doesn't treat these men and women well, then we'll bring in a different group of men and women!”

She shrugged off his criticism. “You know that thing about the pot and the kettle,” the mayor said at a news conference.

The local chapter of Black Lives Matter said it did not support painting the street and took a swipe at Bowser, who they see as insufficiently supportive of their efforts to combat abuses by the police.

“This is performative and a distraction from her active counter organizing to our demands to decrease the police budget and invest in the community,” it said on Twitter.

D.C. officials have longstanding grievances against the federal government.

Bowser and the D.C. Council have long resented Congress, which retains the right to alter and even reverse any city law. It was Congress, not Trump, that cost the District of Columbia more than $700 million in federal funding eaRead More – Source