New York|N.Y.C. Paints ‘Black Lives Matter’ in Front of Trump Tower
New York City began painting “Black Lives Matter” in large yellow letters on the street outside Trump Tower on Thursday, the latest flare-up in a yearslong feud between President Trump, who rose to fame as a Manhattan real estate developer, and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who once sought to replace him.
“Black lives matter in our city, and Black lives matter in the United States of America,” Mr. de Blasio said on Thursday morning, before joining city workers and activists in spreading school-bus yellow paint on Fifth Avenue, between 56th and 57th Streets, in Manhattan.
“Let’s show Donald Trump what he does not understand. Let’s paint it right in front of his building for him.”
Since winning the presidential election in 2016, Mr. Trump has increasingly clashed with officials in his former home state, including not only Mr. de Blasio, but Manhattan’s district attorney, who issued a subpoena for eight years of Mr. Trump’s business and personal tax records.
On Thursday, as the painting began, the Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Trump could not shield his financial records from New York prosecutors.
Thursday’s public art project was announced last month, and city officials have presented its location as a direct rebuke of Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly denigrated those protesting against systemic racism and police brutality in recent weeks.
“The president is a disgrace to the values we cherish in New York City,” a spokeswoman for Mr. de Blasio said in a statement at the time. “He can’t run or deny the reality we are facing, and any time he wants to set foot in the place he claims is his hometown, he should be reminded Black Lives Matter.”
Mr. Trump, who has a history of denigrating Black people, appeared to take the bait. The city’s announcement of the painting provoked an inflammatory response that tried to play on tensions between Black Lives Matter protesters and the New York Police Department.
Mr. Trump and Mr. de Blasio have sparred repeatedly in recent years. The mayor once said that New York would not “welcome back” Mr. Trump, who was born in Queens, after his presidency ended. Months later, the president, who has called Mr. de Blasio “the worst mayor in America,” switched his primary residence to Florida.
The public battle between the two men intensified after Mr. de Blasio announced his Democratic presidential bid last year. The mayor made Mr. Trump’s behavior a focal point of his campaign, and the president repeatedly scorned the mayor’s hopes for higher office.
The painting outside Trump Tower is a part of a citywide project that will ultimately see at least one similar street painting in each of New York’s five boroughs.
As the work got underway on Fifth Avenue, activists, reporters and onlookers milled around, with some occasionally shouting criticism of Mr. Trump.
Sapur Postell, 65, who was sitting on a concrete barrier observing, said he had journeyed early from his home on Staten Island to witness the phrase being painted.
Mr. Postell said that the project had a deep meaning for him, because he was a descendant of people who had been enslaved, and that he hoped it would catch the president’s attention.
“Hopefully, the guy will look out the window and rethink,” Mr. Postell said. “But I doubt that.”
New York City’s project followed an act by Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, who had “Black Lives Matter” painted in giant yellow letters outside the White House after the president deployed federal officers during protests there sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
New York City has continued to see largely peaceful protests in recent weeks, though Mr. de Blasio and the Police Department came under fire for their aggressive handling of protesters early last month.