Written by Bea Taylor
Photography Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images
On Friday, DC mayor Muriel Bowser unveiled her latest project on Twitter; the renaming of a section of 16th Street in front of the White House to the ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza’. The words ‘Black Lives Matter’ were also painted in giant yellow letters down two blocks on the same street, where protests have been raging after the death of George Floyd last week.
Bowser said, in a news conference on Friday, “There’s a lot of anger. There’s a lot of distrust of police in the government. There are people who are craving to be heard and to be seen and to have their humanity recognised. And we had the opportunity to send that message loud and clear on a very important street in our city. That message is to the American people that black lives matter, black humanity matters and we, as a city, raise that up.”
Her chief of staff, John Falcicchio, also said, “Mayor Bowser wanted to make it abundantly clear that this is DC’s street and to honour demonstrators who [were] peacefully protesting on Monday evening.”
But, whilst Bowser’s stand has been widely applauded, the DC chapter of the Black Lives Matter global organisation has rejected the project on Twitter, saying it is merely a “performative distraction from real policy changes.”
“Bowser has consistently been on the wrong side of BLM DC history. This is to appease white liberals while ignoring our demands,” the group said. “Black Lives Matter means defund the police.”
The mayor has responded, “Black Lives Matter is very critical of police; they’re critical of me. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t see them and support the things that will make our community safe and that we don’t all have a larger responsibility in the nation’s capital to send that very clear message to our nation.”