Washington, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser directed the city to paint “Black Lives Matter” on a portion of 16th street leading to the White House, where protesters have been peacefully demonstrating against white supremacy and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death by a white policeman.
Today also has special meaning since it’s the birthday of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was shot to death by police officers in Louisville, Ky., while in her own home. Taylor is one of several victims of police brutality in recent weeks, which have led to a growing number of protests across the nation.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump slammed the mayor while subtly threatening to extend his militaristic approach to thwart Bowser’s actions.
"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,” Trump tweeted. “If she doesn’t treat these men and women well, then we’ll bring in a different group of men and women!"
However, the move also received criticism from Black Lives Matter’s D.C. chapter, which questioned Bowser’s intention behind the sign by calling it a “performative distraction” to “appease white liberals” while ignoring Black Lives Matter’s ultimate goal to “defund the police.”
While D.C. activists have called to defund the police department, one of the 10 largest police departments in the nation, Bowser presented a budget that would increase police funding by over $500 million — with an 11 percent cut to violence prevention programs.
"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 this morning. "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.”
The street painting comes days after Trump ordered police and National Guard troops to forcefully remove peaceful demonstrators so that he could have a photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church while he held up a Bible — 25 minutes before the citywide curfew.