Trump faults ‘Black Lives’ mural outside Trump Tower

Justin Sink

President Donald Trump criticized New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to paint a Black Lives Matter mural on the street outside Trump Tower, saying the effort will antagonize police and will be “denigrating this luxury Avenue.”

“Maybe our GREAT Police, who have been neutralized and scorned by a mayor who hates & disrespects them, won’t let this symbol of hate be affixed to New York’s greatest street,” Trump said in a tweet on Wednesday. “Spend this money fighting crime instead!”

The New York City mayor discussed his plan Tuesday morning to paint the area along 5th Avenue between 56th and 57th streets – mirroring a similar mural in Washington near the White House – during an appearance on MSNBC. City officials in Washington renamed a stretch of 16th Street Northwest as “Black Lives Matter Plaza” after federal officials forcibly cleared protesters demonstrating against police violence out of the area before Trump visited a church that had been damaged.

In this Aug. 27, 2018 file photo, pedestrians walk past Trump Tower on New York City's Fifth Avenue. On Thursday, June 25, 2020, President Donald Trump used Twitter to voice his displeasure with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to paint "Black Lives Matter" in front of Trump's namesake Manhattan tower.

“We’re going to take this moment in history and amplify it by taking the Black Lives Matter symbolism and putting it all over this city, including right in front of Trump Tower,” de Blasio said. “It’s an important message to the whole nation, and obviously we want the president to hear it, because he’s never shown respect for those three words.”

The Black Lives Matter movement grew out of a series of high-profile cases in which Black Americans died during interactions with police, and the movement has seen renewed support and attention in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd while in the custody of police in Minneapolis. Large companies have posted the slogan on their buildings amid nationwide protests, and the NBA is planning to paint “Black Lives Matter” on basketball courts when the league resumes play this month, according to ESPN.

But Trump has increasingly denounced the protests, pointing to instances of looting and vandalism, while casting himself as a protector of “law and order.” In recent days, Trump has tweeted a video of an armed White couple confronting protesters in St. Louis, and another – subsequently deleted – of what appeared to be his supporters chanting “white power” at political opponents at a retirement community in Florida.

Trump’s concern over the proposed mural comes as his signature Manhattan tower is already struggling to retain retail tenants and maintain condo prices amid heightened security and political controversies.