The “Black Lives Matter” message painted in huge yellow letters across the length of the street leading to the White House lawn on the order of DC Mayor Muriel Bowser last Friday received an update the next day: “Defund the police.” The names of DC residents killed by the police were also written on the street.
The inspiration for the mural was the nationwide protests against police brutality that started in response to the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American, at the hands of a white officer in Minneapolis on May 25.
BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100), a member-based organization of black youth activists fighting for racial justice, shared photos of the new work over Twitter, along with the message “Fixed it! Tell Mayor Bowser, Black Lives Matter = Defund Police” on Sunday, June 7.
The tweet also included a link to a newly launched website dedicated to the Defund MPD campaign.
The website criticizes the city’s budget for the Metropolitan Police Department, which is over half a billion dollars per year, and recounts the stories of murders and sexual assaults committed by MPD officers in recent years.
Fixed it! 🔥Tell @MayorBowser
BLACK LIVES MATTER = #DefundPolice
Go to https://t.co/W2jKoLdG0V for more info!#BlackLivesMatter #BlackLivesMatterDC #BLMDC #AbolishThePolice @Mvmnt4BlkLives @DMVBlackLives #InDefenseOfBlackLife #M4BL #StopMPD pic.twitter.com/miYXUmyh0b
— BYP100 (@byp100) June 7, 2020
“Bowser’s mural has been widely heralded as a powerful symbol, and a showcase of defiance against President Donald Trump and his efforts to violently shut down protest. But some local activists see it as an attempt to cover up the problem of police violence in the District,” said the press release of the Defund MPD campaign.
“Muriel Bowser never raises the bar when it comes to police. If Black lives matter, why did her police arrest peaceful protestors, mace them, and hold them 70 to a cell this week? And why do the mothers of Marqueese Alston and D’Quan Young still not know the names of the officers who killed their sons? Black lives should not be a pissing match with Trump,” Black Lives Matter DC core organizer Nee Nee Taylor was quoted as saying in the release.
DC Department of Public Works employees were seen in the area and they refreshed the paint on Sunday. However, they did not touch the new addition to the mural, according to DCist.
Mayor Bowser did not comment on whether the city will remove the “Defund the police” message.
“Well, it’s not a part of the mural and we certainly encourage expression, but we are using the city streets for city art,” she said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, adding that she didn’t even get a chance to review it.
— Leslie Mac (@LeslieMac) June 7, 2020