KEY POINTS

  • Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser approved a project to paint "Black Lives Matter" on the street outside the White House
  • The stretch of street outside the White House where protesters were forced out Monday was formally renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza
  • Bowser's chief of staff said the the actions were meant as direct messages to President Donald Trump

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser approved a street painting on Friday on the road leading to the White House, ordering "Black Lives Matter" to be displayed in large yellow letters following a week of protests demanding justice for George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man who died pleading for air as a white police officer knelt on his neck.

Browser also asked President Trump to recall extra police and National Guard troops deployed on city streets to quell sometimes violent protests demanding  an end to racism in the United States.

The painting project ran along two blocks of 16th Street, which protesters filled on Monday before being cleared with tear gas and rubber bullets so Trump could walk across the street to a historic church where he posed with a Bible for a photo op. Painters wrote out the message in yellow block letters the width of the two-lane street. Local painters assisted public crews in painting the message onto the street.

Crews started around 4 a.m. painting the message in all capital letters.

Alongside the message, Bowser formally renamed 16th Street Black Lives Matter Plaza around 11 a.m. as a city worker hung up the new street sign.

“In America, you can peacefully assemble,” Bowser told the crowd.

Images of the street appeared on Twitter shortly after the renaming was completed.

John Falcicchio, Bowser’s chief of staff, said this was meant as a message to Trump in the wake of the protests, which spanned the country and sometimes turned violent, spawning arson and looting. Bowser and Trump have been at odds since the start of the protests as the mayor opposed Trump’s hostility towards the largely peaceful protests and demands that local officials call in troops to quell the unrest.

“There was a dispute this week about whose street it is, and Mayor Bowser wanted to make it abundantly clear whose street it is and honor the peaceful demonstrators who assembled Monday night,” Falcicchio told the Washington Post.

Bowser has opposed Trump's insistence that local officials "dominate" the protesters. She said she doesn't want soldiers patrolling the streets. Bowser shared her letter to Trump on Twitter, asking him to withdraw extra police and National Guard forces posted in the city.

Demonstrators holding signs protest outside the White House over the death of George Floyd Demonstrators holding signs protest outside the White House over the death of George Floyd Photo: AFP / Jose Luis Magana