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Rendering of the Black Lives Matter mural in Washington, DC.

“Black Lives Matter” Mural Painted on Road Leading to White House

On June 1, police officers in riot gear used tear gas to disperse protesters gathered in Lafayette Square so that President Donald Trump could cross the street to Saint John’s Episcopal Church for a photo op with a bible after he declared that he would mobilize the military to restore law and order in the country. Four days later, Washington, DC’s mayor christened the section of Sixteenth Street in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza” and gave the green light for the Department of Public Works to paint a thirty-foot mural that reads “Black Lives Matter” in enormous yellow capital letters.

According to Mayor Muriel Bowser, the mural—which transformed a two-block stretch of road that leads to the White House and was completed on Friday—is meant to symbolize the city’s solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. “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. “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 mural has deepened the tensions between the District of Columbia’s local government and the current administration. Trump has yet to publicly address the work, but that has not stopped him from attacking Bowser on Twitter, where he called her “incompetent” and accused her of asking for “handouts” and fighting with the National Guard. While the gesture was meant to honor peaceful protesters, it was not well received by Black Lives Matter’s DC chapter, which called it “performative” and a distraction from Bowser’s “active counter organizing to our demands to decrease the police budget and invest in the community.”

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