New York City on Thursday shut down the stretch of Fifth Avenue where Trump Tower stands to begin painting a Black Lives Matter mural.
The proposed mural, between 56th and 57th streets, was called a “symbol of hate” by President Donald Trump, who said it would be “denigrating” Fifth Avenue, known for expensive apartments and luxury shopping.
City workers closed the street Thursday morning, and Mayor Bill de Blasio will likely join the effort to paint the mural, according to NBC New York.
De Blasio defended the mural after the president’s criticism.
“Here’s what you don’t understand: 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 mayor wrote on Twitter last week. “The fact that you see it as denigrating your street is the definition of racism.”
Similar murals have been painted in cities across the country, and in Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser had “Black Lives Matter” painted on a street leading up to the White House.
But the murals haven’t only drawn criticism from the president and his allies. Dominique Hazzard, a Black Washingtonian and organizer with the Black Youth Project 100, told NBC News in June that the mural’s painting “stung.”
Hazzard said she wanted to see policies that showed that the mayor was dedicated to materially improving the lives of black Washingtonians, not just a road display.
“It is important to keep focus on our city’s local issues and the lives lost to prisons and police here in D.C.,” Hazzard said.