Whose Street This Is

 

As D.C. prepared for massive protests on Saturday, Mayor Muriel Bowser went for the grand gesture - and a metaphorical middle finger to the racist cowering in the White House - and had "Black Lives Matter" painted in yuge 35-foot-tall yellow letters on 16th Street, the main drag leading to the now-embattled People's House. Bowser had earlier already asked Trump to remove “all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence" from the city, charging their deployment was "adding to the grievances of those who, by and large, are peacefully protesting (for) reforms to the racist and broken systems that are killing Black Americans." Late Thursday night into Friday morning, she then authorized public works employees, aided and abetted by local artists, to do the painting. Bowser, who also renamed the area Black Lives Matter Plaza, said she took the action on behalf of the thousands in the streets: "There are people who are craving to be heard and to be seen, and to have their humanity recognized, and we had the opportunity to send that message loud and clear." "There was a dispute this week about whose street this is," added her chief of staff, referencing the teargassing-protesters-and-clergy-at-St.John's-atrocity. "Mayor Bowser wanted to make it abundantly clear that this is DC's street." The painting project was panned as "a performative distraction from real policy changes" by Black Lives Matter D.C, who in the past have criticized Bowser's handling of police deadly-force cases and her reluctance to de-fund police. But many others celebrated it as a stellar troll, an act of good will, and a vital tribute that marks progress, however slow. "The symbolism is huge," said Keyonna Jones, one of seven artists who worked on the painting. "We are saying it loud. We are here."

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