Black Lives Matter Doesn't Like DC Mayor's Big Move

Local arm of group criticizes decision to rename street near the White House
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2020 2:45 PM CDT
Black Lives Matter Plaza Now Leads to White House
With St. John's Church in the background, people walk under a new street sign on Friday in Washington.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

About 4am Friday, artists and work crews started to paint a message on two blocks of 16th Street NW, a stretch that runs up to Lafayette Square and the White House. Just after 11, a worker put up a new street sign, and the cheering began, as Andra Day's "Rise Up" played from speakers. The sign and the large yellow letters on the pavement now identify Black Lives Matter Plaza, the Washington Post reports. Mayor Muriel Bowser decided to rename the street to honor protesters who have gathered there to protest police brutality. And there was another reason, officials said; the area is where protesters were cleared Monday so President Trump could walk to St. John's Church to pose with a Bible. "There was a dispute this week about whose street it is," the mayor's chief of staff said. "Mayor Bowser wanted to make it abundantly clear whose street it is."

"In America, you can peacefully assemble," Bowser told the crowd, and she later tweeted that the new street name is official. The local chapter of Black Lives Matter did not join the cheering, reports NBC News, calling the move a distraction. "Bowser has consistently been on the wrong side of BLMDC history," it said in a tweet. "This is to appease white liberals while ignoring our demands." The organization wants the police department to be defunded, while the mayor's next budget adds money for traditional policing. At the same time, it cuts funding for community programs intended to reduce violence in the District. An artist who helped paint the new name tells the Post she's conflicted. "It's about wanting to reclaim the streets, but I also know that it is a little bit of a photo op." (The new barrier around the White House worries Bowser.)

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