New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, long a critic of Donald Trump’s presidency and the drain of his Manhattan headquarters on city’s resources, has backed the mural as a necessary show of solidarity with the movement. Black Lives Matter demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice have swept across the U.S. in recent weeks, though the movement coalesced years earlier.
The mural fills an entire lane of Fifth Avenue in front of the tower, echoing a street painting in support of the movement in Washington, D.C., near the White House. Mayor Muriel Bowser championed the mural there after Trump ordered a harsh response by federal law enforcement to peaceful protests.
The public art project between 56th and 57th streets will take several days to complete. It will be followed by similar murals in the city’s other four boroughs.
The area around the tower has become practically a militarized fortress since Trump’s election in 2016. It has clogged the nearby streets with pedestrians and vehicles and requiring hundreds of millions of dollars in security spending. In the immediate aftermath of the election, the area was the site of protests as well as becoming a tourist destination.
De Blasio, a Democrat, has long sparred with Trump, once saying the Queens native was “not welcome” back in the city. Trump in turn has blasted the mayor, especially during his ill-fated run presidential run.
When the plan for the New York mural was announced last month, Trump ripped it on Twitter, saying de Blasio was “denigrating” a “luxury avenue.” He also called Black Lives Matter a “symbol of hate” and hit on what has been a consistent theme of his in recent weeks, criticizing New York officials’ plan to cut $1 million from the police budget.
De Blasio fired back at Trump: “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.”
In his daily press briefing Thursday, de Blasio said he “applauded” the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier in the day that could require Trump to make financial disclosures he has long resisted. He said it was “outrageous” that “the guy who has massive business interests that are affected by decisions of government has evaded it for years.”
Trump, for decades a New York City tabloid fixture, has spent increasingly less time in the city and changed his official state of residence to Florida.