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NYC Begins Painting Black Lives Matter Mural In Front Of Trump Tower

Azia Toussaint helps paint a Black Lives Matter mural on Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower on Thursday in New York.
Azia Toussaint helps paint a Black Lives Matter mural on Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower on Thursday in New York.

A mural with the words "Black Lives Matter" will soon emblazon Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, right in front of one specific landmark: Trump Tower.

On Thursday morning, work crews blocked off traffic between 56th and 57th streets. Groups of painters then used rollers to start filling in large yellow letters on the pavement.

President Trump derided the mural plan last week, saying it would be "denigrating this luxury Avenue" and antagonize the city's police as "a symbol of hate."

New York Mayor Bill de Blasioresponded: "Black people BUILT 5th Ave and so much of this nation. Your 'luxury' came from THEIR labor, for which they have never been justly compensated. We are honoring them. The fact that you see it as denigrating your street is the definition of racism."

The new artwork takes a cue from another mural at Trump's doorstep.

In early June, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser had the words "Black Lives Matter" painted in huge yellow letters on the street that leads to the White House. Local activists soon added the words "Defund The Police."

Across New York City, Black Lives Matter murals have been painted on the streets. One in bright yellow in Bedford Stuyvesant. A colorful, eclectic one in Lower Manhattan. In Harlem, a multicolored mural that spans both sides of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard.

Many activists say they want more than murals. Dominique Hazzard is a part of the Black Lives Matter chapter in D.C.

"The paint on the street is a beautiful symbol. It's very nice. But you need real actions for Black people here in D.C.," including reducing the police budget, she told NPR last month. "We need to divest from that money and invest that money in things that actually keep people safe, like housing, health care, food, confliction resolution and services on our streets. That's what we need to keep us safe. And if Black lives matter, those are the kinds of changes they'll make."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.