New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has grabbed a roller to paint a Black Lives Matter mural in front of Trump Tower in Manhattan – following the US President’s statement last week that the street mural would be “a symbol of hate”.
Mr De Blasio was flanked by his wife, Chirlane McCray, and the Reverend Al Sharpton as he helped paint the racial justice rallying cry in giant yellow letters on Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower.
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,” Mr de Blasio said.
“We are acknowledging the truth of ourselves as Americans by saying ‘Black Lives Matter’. We are righting a wrong.”
The mayor announced the plan to paint “Black Lives Matter” in front of Trump Tower in June, after earlier saying the slogan would be painted on streets at several city locations.
An outraged Mr Trump responded via Twitter, saying the mural would denigrate “this luxury Avenue” and “further antagonise New York’s Finest” (a reference to the local police). Mr De Blasio responded that Black Lives Matter iwas “a movement to recognise and protect the lives of black people”.
Rahima Torrence, 20, who was among the people slapping yellow paint onto Fifth Avenue, said that even though the mural might be a symbol, “it’s the beginning of something more.” She said the location in front of Mr Trump’s own skyscraper “shows that we matter and it shows to him that you can’t ignore us”.
Washington, DC was the first US city to get a giant yellow Black Lives Matter mural when Mayor Muriel Bowser had it painted on the street leading to the White House. The street – the official address of the White House – was also renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza.
Ms Bowser said the painting was intended to show solidarity with Americans outraged at the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis in May.
Mr Trump lived in Trump Tower before he took office as president but has spent little time there since. He changed his official residence from New York to Florida in 2019. His business empire is still headquartered there.