WASHINGTON – Muralists painted “BLACK LIVES MATTER” in large yellow paint on two blocks of 16th Street in Washington, D.C. Friday, just in front of Lafayette Park, the site of protests over the past week against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Nationwide protests against police brutality and racial discrimination have erupted after Floyd, a black man, died in Minneapolis police custody after a white officer pinned him to the ground under his knee.
The painting of the mural was at the direction of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, according to her chief of staff, who said the mayor wanted to make it “abundantly clear” the street belonged to the city.
Bowser chief of staff John Falcicchio wrote on Twitter, “There was a dispute this week about whose street this week about whose street this is. Mayor Bowser wanted to make it abundantly clear that this is DC’s street and to honor demonstrators who peacefully protested on Monday evening.”
Municipal dump trucks blocked off the street, preventing cars from passing through as people painted the street-width letters, and NBC Washington reported the painters were part of a city public works crew.
A Washington, D.C. flag was painted at the end of the mural, on the side closest to the White House.
Bowser, a Democrat, has criticized the federal government’s handling of the protests in the city. She visited the protests on Wednesday and said Thursday she would “push back” on the federal presence in the city as dozens of federal law enforcement units and the National Guard deployed.
She called the forcible removal of protesters ahead of Trump’s visit to a church near the protest site Monday “shameful” and has slammed Trump’s response.
Later Friday, Bowser released a letter she sent to the Trump administration on June 4 asking for the “extraordinary” federal law enforcement and military presence to be withdrawn from the city.
Bowser wrote she was concerned the unidentified federal personnel on the streets of the city “pose both safety and national security risks” by “inflaming demonstrators” and “adding to the grievances” of mostly peaceful protesters.
Another reporter at the site noted the arrival of portable toilets at the protest site, although it was not immediately clear if the toilets were delivered by the city.
And porto-potties arriving at the corner of I and 16th where the largest protester crowd has been.
If that’s the city of DC facilitating the crowds outside the White House, that’s interesting… pic.twitter.com/b8gd5bDGIY
— Emily Badger (@emilymbadger) June 5, 2020
The mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Contributing: Bart Jansen
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: ‘Black Lives Matter’ mural painted near White House at mayor’s behest