WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump criticized a proposed Black Lives Matter mural to be painted outside Trump Tower as a “symbol of hate” Wednesday while denouncing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who ordered the phrase painted outside Trump’s longtime office.
De Blasio said he ordered the mural – the words “Black Lives Matter” painted in bright letters – to be placed right in front of Trump Tower for a reason.
“We’re going to take this moment in history and amplify it by taking the ‘Black Lives Matter’ symbolism and putting it all over this city, including right in front of Trump Tower,” the mayor told MSNBC on Wednesday.
Trump responded by attacking the mayor for the mural and his plan to cut up to $1 billion from the New York City police budget.
“NYC is cutting Police $’s by ONE BILLION DOLLARS, and yet the @NYCMayor is going to paint a big, expensive, yellow Black Lives Matter sign on Fifth Avenue, denigrating this luxury Avenue,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Maybe our GREAT Police, who have been neutralized and scorned by a mayor who hates & disrespects them, won’t let this symbol of hate be affixed to New York’s greatest street. Spend this money fighting crime instead!”
The president did not mention that the Black Lives Matter mural is slated to be right outside Trump Tower. Trump ruled his real estate and media empire from the glass skyscraper that opened in 1983. Trump Tower also served as the home base for his television show, “The Apprentice,” as well as his 2016 presidential campaign.
De Blasio said painting Black Lives Matter on Fifth Avenue is designed in part to send a message to Trump.
“It’s an important message to the whole nation, and obviously we want the president to hear it because he’s never shown respect for those three words,” de Blasio said on MSNBC. “When he hears ‘Black Lives Matter,’ he presents a horrible, negative reality of something that doesn’t exist and he misses the underlying meaning that we’re saying we have to honor the role of African Americans in our history and in our society.”
Trump and aides have described some supporters of Black Lives Matter as vandals. They cite property damage and some violence during nationwide protests of police brutality, particularly after the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of officers in Minneapolis.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump does believe that “black lives matter,” but he condemns the anti-police chants made by some members of the Black Lives Matter organization
Supporters of Black Lives Matter said Trump is trying to lump an entire group of people with the few who grew violent at some of the protests. They said Trump is simply trying to appeal to white racists who are part of his political base.
“The man who spent the entire morning tweeting about preserving the legacy of the confederacy and its inextricable link to slavery thinks declaring that Black people have the right to live and be treated fairly is hateful,” tweeted Bishop Talbert Swan, a pastor and radio host. “This is America.”
Rick Tyler, an anti-Trump Republican strategist, called the Black Lives Matter tweet “unhinged” – and probably not the last time we hear from Trump on the subject.
“Let’s see how he reacts when they paint it in front of Trump Tower,” Tyler said.
The phrase “Black Lives Matter,” written in massive 50-foot yellow letters, was painted on Washington, D.C., street just north of the White House in early June. Similar tributes can now be seen on streets across the U.S.