Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser renamed an area near the White House on Friday that has become the epicenter of anti-racism protests last week. "Black Lives Matter Plaza" reveals a huge street scene.
The African American mayor aroused the anger of the movement that supported it, as well as of President Donald Trump.
The protests focus on the death of 46-year-old Black George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 in police custody. A white officer knelt on the back of his neck until he passed out.
This officer and three others are currently detained and charged with second-degree murder for the kneeling officer and support and favor for this crime for his colleagues.
North of the White House, the words BLACK LIVES MATTER were painted in giant yellow letters along the street that led to the presidential mansion, along with the DC flag symbol.
The section of 16th Street in front of the White House is now officially "Black Lives Matter Plaza". pic.twitter.com/bbJgAYE35b
– Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser), June 5, 2020
"The 16th Street section in front of the White House is now officially & # 39; Black Lives Matter Plaza & # 39;" tweeted Bowser.
A city worker put up a new street sign with the name.
"Determination to make America the country it should be," she said on Twitter.
Corner 16 and H is significant – in a controversial incident on Monday, peaceful demonstrators gathered there were scattered with tear gas.
Shortly thereafter, Trump went from the White House to a nearby church to take a photo with the Bible in his hand.
"There was a dispute this week about whose street this is. Mayor Bowser wanted to make it clear that this is the DC street and honor protesters," protested chief of staff John Falcicchio on Monday.
Rose Jaffe, one of the collective's artists who painted the BLACK LIVES MATTER sign, told AFP that it was "about regaining the streets of DC".
But she added that Bowser "has to do more than just a photo op – she has to keep going if this is washed away" when it comes to issues like police accountability.
Stars like LeBron James praised their move on Twitter, but the local chapter of the Black Lives movement declined and called the mural a "performative distraction from real political change".
"This is to appease the white liberals while ignoring our demands," said Twitter, saying that Bowser was "consistently on the wrong side" of the movement.
"We are well equipped"
The U.S. government deployed a significant contingent of federal and national guard troops from other countries – many of whom were not wearing identifying gowns or badges – to handle protests in Washington.
Bowser had called the local guardsmen, but the Department of Justice took partial control of peacekeeping, with the guard troops coming from Utah.
In a letter to Trump on Thursday tweeted early Friday, Bowser called for the removal of "all of the extraordinary law enforcement agencies and the federal military presence."
She said her action was "to ignite the protesters and increase the complaints of those who, on the whole, are peacefully protesting for changes and reforms to the racist and broken systems that are killing black Americans."
"These additional, unidentified units operate outside of established chains of command," she added.
"We are well prepared for large demonstrations and First Amendment activities," including assembly rights, said Bowser.
Trump reiterated on Friday that the authorities must "dominate the streets" and did not apologize for the effort.
And on Twitter, he struck Bowser, calling her "incompetent" and saying that the National Guard had saved her from "great embarrassment".
Utah Senator Mike Lee accused Bowser of expelling Utah National Guard members from nearby hotels.
She replied, "DC residents cannot pay their hotel bills. The Army can resolve this with the hotel today, and we are ready to help."