Bowser, a Democrat, announced the significant by largely symbolic move on Friday as she also unveiled a mural painted with the slogan on the asphalt in massive yellow letters onto the street that leads up to the White House, reports Efe news.
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“I want to welcome all peaceful protesters to Washington, D.C. I’m joined by members of the City Council. We want to call attention today to make sure our nation is more fair and more just and that Black lives and Black humanity matter in our nation,” Bowser said during the inauguration ceremony.
The Mayor had been opposing President Donald Trump’s escalation of federal law enforcement deployment to quell protests and unrest in the capital, triggered by the May 25 killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in the custody of Minneapolis police.
He then moved in federal police and National Guard units to Washington in a move that drew widespread criticism from activists and local officials that amid vehement opposition by Bowser.
“As Washingtonians, we simply all want to be here together in peace to demonstrate that in America, you can peacefully assemble, you can bring grievances to your government, and you can demand change,” Bowser said, as she renamed the square in front of St John’s Church.
It is precisely on this street where the security forces on June 1 sprayed pepper and forcibly evicted hundreds of demonstrators who were protesting peacefully in front of the White House.
President Trump then walked onto the street and pose before the photographers with a bible in his hand outside the nearby church, which was partially damaged during a protest march the night before.
However, Mayor Bowser’s gesture to honour the protesters has not appealed to everyone, as the association “Black Lives Matter DC” reproached her for causing “a distraction from the real political changes” they demand.
“This is a performative distraction from real policy changes. Bowser has consistently been on the wrong side of BLMDC history. This is to appease white liberals while ignoring our demands. Black Lives Matter means defund the police,” the group tweeted.
Washington and other main cities in the US have witnessed massive protests for over a week now in response to Floyd’s death.
The protests are scheduled to continue this weekend, including one on Saturday that is expected to draw a large crowd.
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