D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has an important message to share: Black Lives Matter. On Friday the Democratic leader had the words, now used as a rallying cry for the movement to end state-sanctioned violence, painted along 16th Street in bold yellow lettering. She also renamed the street in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza,” a move that is likely to get the attention of the impeached president.
Over the last week, the streets of the capital have been home to a number of protests triggered by the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd among others. Demonstrators have left the comforts of their home in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic to demand police reform and accountability for the men and women who callously take Black lives without consequence.
Just days ago, the Trump administration had protestors who were peacefully exercising their First Amendment Rights violently removed from the perimeter of the White House. Bowser is sending a clear message that she stands on the side of the people. The Washington Post reports that when the street sign was hung on corner of 16th and H, Audra Day’s “Rise Up” played from the speakers and Bowser addressed those gathered saying, “In America, you can peacefully assemble.”
Bowser’s stance is in direct opposition to Trump who has praised himself and his administration for calling in the military to help respond to demonstrations which have been largely peaceful. On Friday the D.C. native requested that the commander-in-chief remove all federal law enforcement and military from the city, citing “The protestors have been peaceful, and last night, the Metropolitan Police Department did not make a single arrest.” Bowser also noted that she continues to be concerned that “unidentified federal personnel patrolling the streets of Washington, DC pose both safety and national security risks.”
In tweets, Bowser showed further solidarity with the movement by using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and lifting up Breonna Taylor, who was killed by Louisville Police last month. “Breonna Taylor, on your birthday, let us stand with determination. Determination to make America the land it ought to be.” Nobody has been held responsible in Taylor’s death.