New York City's mayor has confirmed a Black Lives Matter mural will be painted right in front of the Trump Tower in Manhattan amid ongoing anti-racism protests sparked by the police-involved killing of George Floyd.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said the mural would serve as a reminder for the president and all who see it painted in bold on the city’s iconic Fifth Avenue, where President Donald Trump has owned his 58-floor skyscraper since 1979.
“The president is a disgrace to the values we cherish in New York City”, Julia Arredondo, spokesperson for Mr de Blasio, said in a statement.
She added: “He can’t run or deny the reality we are facing, and any time he wants to set foot in the place he claims is his hometown, he should be reminded Black Lives Matter.”
According to the New York Post, Mr de Blasio decided to install the mural in front of Trump Tower after Washington displayed a Black Lives Matter painting on the streets leading up to the White House.
While Washington’s mural was celebrated by many as an act of resistance against the president, some activists have issued critical statements condemning the move as performative.
Black Lives Matter DC, the group’s Washington chapter, slammed Mayor Muriel Bowser over the mural in a statement released just after it was put on display, reading in part: “Mayor Muriel Bowser must be held accountable for the lip service she pays in making such a statement while she continues to intentionally underfund and cut services and programs that meet the basic survival needs of black people in DC.”
The group added: “We rebuke the notion that we must celebrate crumbs the Mayor gives DC residents without engaging critically in why we settle for art but not housing, street signs but not investments in the actual things that keep communities safe."
New York City officials had previously indicated Black Lives Matter murals would be featured throughout the city in a 9 June statement, the New York Daily News reported.
The Black Lives Matter murals — and resulting debate over their significance at a moment when protestors are calling for a defunding of police departments — come amid weeks of nationwide protests of the death of Mr Floyd.
Mr Floyd, 46, was seen pleading for his life as a white police officer kneeled on his neck in a cellphone video that sparked global outcry.
While the resulting protests have largely been peaceful demonstrations, some in cities like New York and elsewhere have occasionally turned into violent scenes of looting and confrontations with police. Mr de Blasio implemented a citywide curfew earlier this month that received swift criticism as police officers clashed with peaceful protestors on city streets.