WASHINGTON – Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser renamed a White House street on Friday as ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza’ and had the slogan painted in huge yellow letters on the roadway as a clear admonition to President Donald Trump’s militaristic response to American Protests Against Police Cruelty.
Bowser tweeted footage of the street painting on a section of 16th Street in the US capital with a message to Breonna Taylor, a black woman murdered by Louisville, Kentucky police who inspired national protests along with the African-American, who died in May George Floyd. 25 in the Minneapolis Police Department.
“Breonna Taylor, let’s stand firm on your birthday,” Bowser wrote. “Determination to make America the country it should be.”
Bowser and Trump are at odds with the president’s use of federal law enforcement agencies and military police to interrupt a protest Monday night so he can take a photo outside a church near the White House.
At a news conference on Thursday, Bowser said, “We want troops from the state, from Washington, D.C.”
On Friday, the city also installed a street sign for Black Lives Matter Plaza at the intersection of H and 16th Streets, where St. John’s Episcopal Church Trump visited.
With rollers and buckets of yellow paint, with brushes to refine the edges of the letters, a group of people – men and women of different races and ages, some with roller skates, some with work shoes – painted the street. Many sweated under the warm Washington sun.
Hit by the economic blow of the coronavirus pandemic and protests on Friday, Trump once again said he had advised a number of state governors to invoke the National Guard to “dominate the streets.”
“Don’t be proud. Get the job done. In the end, you will do much better and call the National Guard. Call me,” Trump said in White House comments.
“You have to dominate the streets. You can’t let what happens, ” said Trump, echoing some of his previous comments.
National protests, largely peaceful, have sometimes turned into vandalism, looting and clashes between police and protesters.
At the same time, Trump – accused by critics, including his former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, of dividing America – called for law enforcement to treat all people fairly and equally, regardless of race, gender, color or creed.
On Wednesday, after long refusing to explicitly criticize a sitting president, Mattis outright denounced Trump for militarizing the U.S. response to civil unrest.
Protests took place in many cities, including Atlanta, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, and Washington. Protests were scheduled for Washington on Saturday, and memorial services were expected for several days with Floyd’s funeral scheduled for Tuesday.
A change of mood in most demonstrations reflected a determination by many protesters and organizers to transform the outrage over Floyd’s death into a renewed civil rights movement in search of reforms of the U.S. criminal justice system.
“This is a very seismic moment, and one day I will have a child and he or she or she will ask me what I did during the 2020 uprising, during the American Spring,” said Nana Mensah, a writer in the thirty from Brooklyn.
She held a sign that said, “You’re lucky we just want equality, not revenge.”
Republican Trump, who is running for election against presumed Democratic candidate Joe Biden on November 3, was applauded Friday by an unexpected leap in U.S. employment in May. Millions of Americans have lost jobs, while much of the country has been locked up because of the pandemic.
Despite the general improvement, unemployment among African Americans was higher in May than in April, a statistic critics would certainly cite as underlining racial differences in American society.
The unemployment rate for African Americans is 3.5 percentage points higher than the national rate of 13.3%, while the rate for whites is 12.4%, almost a full point below the national rate.
The new coronavirus has also killed more African Americans than the general American population.
Asian Americans were another demographic that experienced rising unemployment in May, government figures show.