The past few days have seen an uprising against police brutality in all 50 states, with protesters fighting for justice in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless Black people who have been victims of police brutality.
And now, D.C.’s Mayor Muriel Bowser has sent a decisive sign of her commitment to supporting Black Lives Matter protests and activists.
Friday morning, Mayor Bowser had “Black Lives Matter” painted on 16th Street—which leads directly to the White House.
The painting spans two blocks—H Street to K Street—creating an extremely visible symbol of D.C.’s commitment to supporting Black Lives Matter protesters and the Black community as a whole.
And while paint can wear off over time, Mayor Bowser has made sure that this section of D.C., in full view of the White House, will always be a symbol of the fight against racism and police brutality: The section of 16th Street that was painted has been renamed “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”
John Falcicchio, Mayor Bowser’s chief of staff, commented on Twitter:
“There was a dispute this week about whose street this is. Mayor Bowser wanted to make it abundantly clear that this is D.C.’s street and to honor demonstrators who peacefully protesting on Monday evening.”
Mayor Bowser has also addressed a letter to President Trump, calling on him to remove all federal law enforcement and military presence from the city. In the letter, she writes, “this multiplicity of forces can breed dangerous confusion, such as when helicopters are used in a war-like tactic to frighten and disperse peaceful protesters.”
While a painted street is by no means equivalent to the vast systemic changes that activists are demanding, it nevertheless sends the message that mayors and local politicians are beginning to stand with protesters and call for justice. Mayor Bowser’s actions today echo the support for anti-racist policies we’ve begun to see among politicians across the country. We can only hope that this support will be reflected in concrete political change.