Last week, President Trump got a typographic surprise near the White House. Democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser took to the streets to send a message to the president, ordering a giant two-block sign reading “Black Lives Matter” to be painted on 16th Street Northwest between H and K streets. It underscores the street’s new name: Black Lives Matter Plaza.
“We want to call attention today to making sure our nation is more fair and more just, and that black lives and that black humanity matter in our nation,” Bowser told NBC News.
The words were emblazoned in huge yellow sans serif letters on a stretch of tarmac where just days before, peaceful protesters were brutally dispersed by tear gas and rubber bullets so that Trump could walk to St. John’s Church, where he posed holding a Bible.
Time magazine reported that the local Black Lives Matter chapter did not support painting the street, and took a swipe at Bowser: “This is performative and a distraction from her active counter organizing to our demands to decrease the police budget and invest in the community,” the group wrote on Twitter. According to DCist, “local activists pulled out buckets and paint poles, and they used the exact same forum to paint their own statement: ‘Defund the police.’ They also covered over the stars in the D.C. flag, and used the same kind of typography as the original lettering, so the full message seamlessly read ‘Black Lives Matter = Defund the Police.’” On Sunday morning, workers with the city’s Department of Public Works, which painted the original lettering, were spotted refreshing the paint—and restoring the stars. But they left the words.