Mayor helps paint ‘Black Lives Matter’ outside Trump Tower
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio grabbed a roller Thursday to paint “Black Lives Matter” in front of the namesake Manhattan tower of President Donald Trump, who tweeted last week that the street mural would be “a symbol of hate.”
De Blasio was flanked by his wife, Chirlane McCray, and the Rev. Al Sharpton as he helped paint the racial justice rallying cry in giant yellow letters on Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower. Activists watching chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets!”
“When we say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ there is no more American statement, there is no more patriotic statement because there is no America without Black America,” de Blasio said. “We are acknowledging the truth of ourselves as Americans by saying ‘Black Lives Matter.’ We are righting a wrong.”
The mayor announced the plan to paint “Black Lives Matter” in front of Trump Tower last month after earlier saying the slogan would be painted on streets at several locations around the city. Trump responded via Twitter that the mural would denigrate “this luxury Avenue” and “further antagonize New York’s Finest.” De Blasio tweeted back that Black Lives Matter is “a movement to recognize and protect the lives of Black people.”
Crews began painting a little after 10 a.m. painting the letters Black Lives Matter in bright yellow, directly in front of Trump Tower on 5th Avenue between 56th and 57th streets.
Murals like this one are planned or have already been painted in all five boroughs and across the country. One of the volunteers who came out to paint says when he heard about the plan he knew it was something he had to be a part of.
"I wanted to be a part of it because it meant so much to me because my son was killed by a New York City police officer, so I know the pain that people are feeling right now; unfortunately Mr. Floyd had to lose his life for us to get to this point for the spotlight to be on injustice of colored people and people of color in the America,” says Mike Tucker.
Rahima Torrence, 20, who was among the people slapping yellow paint onto Fifth Avenue, said that even though the mural might be a symbol, “it’s the beginning of something more.” She said the location in front of Trump’s own skyscraper “shows that we matter and it shows to him that you can’t ignore us.”
Washington, D.C. was the first U.S. city to get a giant yellow “Black Lives Matter” mural when Mayor Muriel Bowser had it painted on the street leading to the White House. Bowser said the painting was intended to show solidarity with Americans outraged over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Trump lived in Trump Tower before he took office as president but has spent little time there since. He changed his official residence from New York to Florida last year. His business empire is still headquartered there.
The mayor says he wants to make it clear to the whole country that Black Lives Matter, and putting it here he believes sends a message not only to the president but the entire country.
AP Writer Karen Mathews contributed to this report.