On Saturday, as thousands gathered in the nation’s capital, words were added to the Black Lives Matter pavement art: “Defund The Police.”
Protesters painted the message in similar bold, yellow lettering as the mural to assert that politicians’ promises to “reform” police departments are not enough.
In response to the Black Lives Matter mural painted on 16th Street in DC, protesters decided to paint another message next to it: “DEFUND THE POLICE” pic.twitter.com/BxN86tQyeU— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) June 7, 2020
On Sunday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declined to say whether those words would be removed from the mural, which was painted Friday on a stretch of 16th Street NW in front of the White House.
Bowser said on ABC’s “This Week” that she was proud of the mural: “It is an affirmative piece of art, a centering piece of art where people from around the globe have called us and thanked us for acknowledging black humanity and black lives in the most important city in the world.”
Co-anchor Martha Raddatz asked, “But will you take out the part that says defund police?”
“Well, it's not a part of the mural, and we certainly encourage expression, but we are using the city streets for city art,” Bowser said.
“In other words, that will go away. You will paint over that?” Raddatz pressed.
Bowser replied, “I actually haven't even had an opportunity to review it, Martha, but we — the response that we've gotten from people about the black lives matter ... mural has just been incredible.”
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he understood the sentiment and substance behind the "Defund the Police" slogan.
"While it's not a slogan I’ll use, if people just dismiss it and don't get deeper into the substance — as I said earlier, it is not a mark of a beloved community to prey upon the most vulnerable in your society," said Booker, a former mayor of Newark, N.J.
Bowser on Friday had “Black Lives Matter” painted to invoke the national movement combating the violence inflicted on black communities. An intersection near the White House, where federal law enforcement used tear gas and flash-bang grenades to clear a peaceful demonstration for a presidential photo-op, was also renamed “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”
But the Black Lives Matter D.C. chapter called the gestures “performative,” accusing Bowser of trying to distract from “her active counter-organizing to our demands,” which include reducing the city’s police budget and reinvesting the funds elsewhere. On Saturday, negative comments were spray-painted on or near it, such as "This 'Mural' Ain't Doing Shit.”
“Bowser has consistently been on the wrong side of BLMDC history. This is to appease white liberals while ignoring our demands,” the chapter tweeted Friday.