A Black Lives Matter Mural Now Lines the New York City Street in Front of Trump Tower. The President Is Enraged

Mayor Bill de Blasio personally helped paint the letters.

The Black Lives Matter mural being painted outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. Photo courtesy of the mayor's office.

There’s a new view from President Donald Trump’s New York City apartment. Painted in giant yellow letters on the street below Trump Tower are the words “Black Lives Matter,” one of seven similar murals painted on sites throughout the city at the behest of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“The president is a disgrace to the values we cherish in New York City,” Julia Arredondo, a spokesperson for the mayor, told the New York Times when the plan was unveiled last month. “Any time [Trump] wants to set foot in the place he claims is his hometown, he should be reminded Black Lives Matter.”

Outside of Trump Tower, on Fifth Avenue between East 56th and 57th streets, the mayor himself took a paint roller to the streets to help create the massive art project. He was assisted by Al Sharpton and First Lady Chirlane McCray, as well as 20 local artists and volunteers from the youth organization Street Corner Resources.

If the gesture is, as some Twitter users suggested, an attempt to troll the president, Trump took the bait.

Al Sharpton, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, and First Lady Chirlane McCray paint a Black Lives Matter mural outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. Photo courtesy of the mayor's office.

Al Sharpton, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and First Lady Chirlane McCray paint a Black Lives Matter mural outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. Photo courtesy of the mayor’s office.

“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, urging the cops not to “let this symbol of hate be affixed to New York’s greatest street.”

De Blasio responded to the president’s tweet in his remarks during the painting.

A man uses his cell phone to take a picture of a newly painted Black Lives Matter mural outside of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue on July 10, 2020 in New York City. Photo by Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images.

A man uses his cell phone to take a picture of a newly painted Black Lives Matter mural outside of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue on July 10, 2020 in New York City. Photo by Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images.

“President Trump said we would be denigrating the luxury of Fifth Avenue. Let me tell you: we’re not denigrating anything, we are liberating Fifth Avenue, we are uplifting Fifth Avenue,” de Blasio said. “When we say ‘Black Lives Matter’ there is no more American statement, there’s no more patriotic statement, because there is no America without Black America.”

Other versions of the work have been painted in cities across the country, starting in Washington, DC, just two blocks from the White House. Other cities publicly declaring their support for the movement for racial justice with the murals include Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, Raleigh, Austin, Cincinnati, Seattle, and Chicago.

The widely embraced trend has, however, come under criticism by those, including the Black Lives Matter Global Network’s DC chapter, who see the murals as a “performative gesture,” rather than a commitment to real change that would benefit the Black community.

In addition to those commissioned by New York’s mayor, the city’s other Black Lives Matter murals include a 375-foot-long display on Fulton Street in Bed-Stuy outside the Billie Holiday Theatre. Designed by artist Dawud West at the behest of the theater and local Council Member Robert Cornegy Jr., the mural was painted June 14, the first of its kind in the city.

Now, De Blasio’s initiative has seen murals installed in sites across the city, including Richmond Terrace in Staten Island and Joralemon Street between Court Street and Boerum Place in Brooklyn Heights. Artists Sophia Dawson, Tijay Mohammed, and Patrice Payne designed one for Lower Manhattan at Foley Square, on Centre Street between Worth Street and Reade Street.

A colorful one on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard in Harlem is curated by artist LeRone Wilson, who enlisted seven other artists—Jason WallaceOmo MishaGuy Stanley PhilocheLesny FelixThomas HeathDianne Smith, and Joyous Pierce—to join him in designing two letters each for the display.

The Black Lives Matter mural in Harlem, curated by LeRone Wilson. Photo courtesy of Harlem Park to Park in partnership with Got To Stop Social Impact Agency.

The Black Lives Matter mural in Harlem, curated by LeRone Wilson. Photo courtesy of Harlem Park to Park in partnership with Got To Stop Social Impact Agency.

Still to come are murals in Queens on 153rd Street between Jamaica and Archer avenues, and in the Bronx on Morris Avenue between 161st and 162nd streets. The city is conaming the streets involved Black Lives Matter Boulevard.

The Trump Tower pavement mural’s installation coincided with a Supreme Court ruling against the president, which found that Trump must release his financial records to New York prosecutors.


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share

Article topics