D.C. Mayor Commissions Massive Black Lives Matter Mural on Street, Activists Add to It

 

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Ahead of Washington, D.C.’s largest day of protests for the killing of George Floyd, Mayor Muriel Bowser commissioned a tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement. On Friday, June 5, bold yellow letters appeared on 16th Street, applied in permanent street paint, which read “Black Lives Matter” along with the stars of the D.C. flag. The rebuke to President Trump comes as Bowser also renamed the plaza outside the White House to Black Lives Matter Plaza.

The message spans more than a block and is located at the foot of St. John’s Episcopal Church and two blocks from Lafayette Square. This location is significant, as the square is where police cleared peaceful protestors using smoke canisters, tear gas, and flashbangs—all so President Trump could have a photo-op at the church.

While certainly a powerful message, Bowser's gesture was not without controversy; Black Lives Matter DC criticized the move. “This is performative and a distraction from her active counter organizing to our demands to decrease the police budget and invest in the community,” they wrote in a tweet. “Black Lives Matter means Defund the police.”

In a “fixed that for you” moment, activists tweaked the mural on Saturday, June 6, during the protests. Using yellow paint and paint poles, they painted their own message: “Defund the Police.” They also added a line below the D.C. flag. When complete, the full street art read “Black Lives Matter = Defund the Police.”

On Sunday, June 7, employees of the city’s Department of Public Works were seen restoring the stars of the D.C. flag. They did not, however, remove the additional phrase. At the time of writing, there is no word if “Defund the Police” will stay or go.

On Friday, June 5, “Black Lives Matter” appeared on Washington, D.C.'s 16th street applied with permanent street paint. It was commissioned by Mayor Muriel Bowser.

 

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While a powerful statement, the move was criticized by Black Lives Matter D.C.

Activists added to the original street mural by adding “Defund the Police.”

 

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On Sunday, June 7, employees of the city’s Department of Public Works were seen restoring the stars of the D.C. flag. They did not, however, remove the additional phrase.

h/t: [Colossal, DCist]

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met and Manager of My Modern Met Store. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.

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