Mayor renames a section of 16th street to Black Lives Matters
The Mayor of Washington, DC – Muriel Bowser – has renamed the section of 16th street – a plaza opposite the White House – which has hosted seven days of protests over the death of George Floyd, to “Black Lives Matters.”
This comes after President Donald Trump ordered authorities to forcibly remove peaceful protesters from a square outside the White House so he could cross the street to take a photo in front of a church.
Mayor Bowser said she wanted Washington to demonstrate that “you can bring grievances to your government and demand change”.
Earlier in the day, with permission from the city, volunteers painted the words “Black Lives Matter” in giant letters on the road.
Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, also unveiled a two-block long mural painted onto the street leading up to the White House declaring “Black Lives Matter”.
She also demanded that Mr Trump remove federal soldiers from Washington.
The mayor’s defiant, but largely symbolic, acts come as more protests are expected in DC at the weekend.
Marking the square in front of St John’s Church with the new “Black Lives Matter Plaza” sign on Friday, Ms Bowser said: “As Washingtonians, we simply all want to be here together in peace to demonstrate that in America, you can peacefully assemble, you can bring grievances to your government, and you can demand change”.
The mayor also tweeted a video clip of the giant “Black Lives Matter” street mural emblazoned on the road in front of the White House in bright yellow paint.
“There was a dispute this week about whose street this is,” the mayor’s chief of staff John Falcicchio tweeted as the mural was unveiled.”
“Mayor Bowser wanted to make it abundantly clear that this is DC’s street and honour demonstrators who were peacefully protesting on Monday evening.”
But the move by the mayor was panned by the local chapter of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, which called it “a performative distraction from real policy changes” and a way “to appease white liberals while ignoring our demands”.
More black residents live in Washington than white residents, but the city has some of the highest levels of economic disparity between black and white households in the US.
On Twitter, Mr Trump threatened to “bring in a different group of men and women” to DC if Ms Bowser doesn’t treat federal National Guard troops “well”, though it was unclear to whom he was referring.