On Friday, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser unveiled a new street mural with the massive text reading “Black Lives Matter” lining the newly coronated “Black Lives Matter Plaza,” running directly to the White House.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has officially deemed the section of 16th Street bearing the mural "Black Lives Matter Plaza." pic.twitter.com/FG2NNd86yZ
— Chip Greene (@chipgreene) June 6, 2020
Just hours later, Black Lives Matter activists staying true to form, condemned the mural as “performative,” arguing it isn’t enough. In turn, demonstrators painted over the D.C. flag to turn it into an equal sign and tagged on three extra words to read “Black Lives Matter = Defund the Police.”
— Faith Hill (@genuinebarbie2) June 7, 2020
While D.C. authorities touched up the street mural to restore the district stars, officials are currently letting it stay while Mayor Bowser has yet to make a final decision.
On Sunday, Bowser dodged the question when asked on ABC’s “This Week” whether she would remove the unauthorized artwork.
“It’s not a part of the mural,” Bowser said, adding that she hasn’t “had the opportunity to review it,” whatever that means.
Asked if she will remove a “Defund the Police” mural, which activists added to a “Black Lives Matter” mural commissioned by the city, D.C. Mayor Mayor Muriel Bowser says “it’s not a part of the mural," but she hasn't had "an opportunity to review it.” https://t.co/l3sC7yvmsU pic.twitter.com/cTrGD2gUKn
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) June 7, 2020
Bowser’s office did not immediately respond to The Federalist’s request for comment.
The demands to “defund police” in recent weeks have become the latest mantra of the contemporary Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
While some activists claim “defunding police” doesn’t actually mean “defunding police,” just like “abolish ICE” doesn’t actually mean abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (it does), the Minneapolis City Council announced Sunday it would be dismantling its law enforcement. When its City Council President Lisa Bender was challenged on what to tell anxious residents concerned about the absence of public protection, Bender said such individuals needed to simply check their “privilege.”
While shying away from saying whether she would remove the unauthorized addition to the city’s commissioned street mural, Mayor Bowser said Monday that the District of Columbia has made strides in its police reform in the last two decades.
“We’ve been on the pace of reforming our department for the last 18 years; we’ve had the commitment of wonderful police leadership,” Bowser said according to WTOP News. “This department is different than many places in the country because of that steady pace of reform.”
Bowser emphasized that the city has continued to invest in police while dramatically increasing spending in social services.
“I just want to be very clear that the budgets that we have sent to the council over the last five years have recognized all parts of public safety, policing, but certainly intervention and opportunity programs,” Bowser said.
Whether she will remove the message to “defund the police” from the city’s newest landmark memorial however, remains an open question.