WASHINGTON (AP) — City workers and volunteers painted the words Black Lives Matter in enormous bright yellow letters on the street leading to the White House, a highly visible sign of the District of Columbia's embrace of a protest movement that has put it at odds with President Donald Trump.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted aerial video of the mural shortly after it was completed Friday. The letters and an image of the city's flag stretch across 16th Street for two blocks, ending just before the church where Trump staged a photo-op after federal officers forcibly cleared a peaceful demonstration to make way for the president and his entourage.
"The section of 16th street in front of the White House is now officially 'Black Lives Matter Plaza,'" Bowser tweeted. A sign was put up to mark the change.
The street-painting project follows Bower's verbal clashes with the Trump administration over the response to protests of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Bowser has complained about the heavy-handed federal response and called for the removal of out-of-state National Guard troops. She says their differences highlight the need for D.C. to be a state and have more control over its internal affairs.
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!"
The local chapter of Black Lives Matter said it did not support painting the street and took a swipe at Bowser. "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.
On Thursday, as the protests turned peaceful, Bowser ended a curfew imposed after people damaged buildings and broke into businesses over the weekend and Monday. A large demonstration is expected in the city on Saturday.
The mayor tweeted out a letter from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who wrote the president to express alarm that peaceful protesters were being confronted by heavily armed federal agents and officers, many of them with their identities and agencies obscured.