New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, took part in painting “Black Lives Matter” in front of Trump Tower in Manhattan on Thursday, a week after Donald Trump tweeted it would be “a symbol of hate”.
The Mayor, alongside his wife, Chirlane McCray, and the Rev Al Sharpton painted a huge Black Lives Matter sign (the racial justice rallying cry in giant yellow letters) on the pavement outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in front, replicating similar murals supporting the movement elsewhere in the country.
Activists watching chanted: “Whose streets? Our streets!”
“When we say ‘Black Lives Matter’, there is no more American statement, there is no more patriotic statement because there is no America without Black America,” De Blasio, a Democrat, said. “We are acknowledging the truth of ourselves as Americans by saying ‘Black Lives Matter’. We are righting a wrong.”
President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly assailed the Black Lives Matter movement, did not immediately comment on the sign, done in giant block lettering in school-bus yellow, which filled the pavement outside his flagship hotel. But when the plan was floated last month he accused the city’s Democratic leaders of “denigrating” the famous street with a “symbol of hate.”
The Mayor is here:— Sarah Jorgensen (@SarahLJorgensen) July 9, 2020
“We are not denegrating anything,” he said. “We are liberating Fifth Avenue” pic.twitter.com/0x9oqvjfGp
The mayor announced the plan to paint “Black Lives Matter” in front of Trump Tower last month after earlier saying the slogan would be painted on streets at several locations around the city. The president responded via Twitter that the slogan would denigrate “this luxury Avenue” and “further antagonize New York’s Finest”, referring to the New York police department. De Blasio tweeted back that Black Lives Matter is “a movement to recognize and protect the lives of Black people”.
According to a 17-year-old Francie Brewster, who had come to watch the painting, said “A painting is a nice symbol, but it doesn’t address systemic racism in any way. So as cool as it is, it’s important to focus on that.”
Similar murals have been painted in other American cities in support of the BLM movement, which has been at the forefront of public consciousness following weeks of anti-racism protests. The demonstrations were sparked by the killing by police of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis in May.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser renamed an area on her city’s 16th Street, a block from the White House, as Black Lives Matter Plaza, unveiling a giant yellow mural on that street. The area has become the epicenter of anti-racist demonstrations.
Trump Tower, a luxury skyscraper near Central Park, is where Trump lived before leaving for the White House in January 2017. He stays there when he visits his hometown, although such visits have grown relatively rare. Residents in overwhelmingly Democratic New York remain largely hostile to his presidency.
Trump has frequently clashed with De Blasio, a Democrat, as well as with New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo. The president changed his official residence to Florida last year, but his business empire remains headquartered in the Big Apple.
Giant steps taken by the Mayor, What do you think?