NEW York City artists are working on a huge Black Lives Matter mural in Manhattan while George Floyd protests continue.
On Thursday, people painted the pointed message on Centre Street, where just a block away, protesters were camped out at City Hall Park.
Demonstrators have taken to the streets to decry systemic racism since May 25, the date of Floyd’s police custody death in Minneapolis.
The slogan was painted in front of the White House in Washington DC back in June and the initiative has rapidly catching on, emerging in mayor US cities.
Donald Trump slammed plans for an “antagonizing” BLM mural outside his Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue on Wednesday, after NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced it would serve as a “message to him.”
Earlier today, city officials postponed the work until sometime next week after de Blasio promised it would happen “in a matter of days.”
Elsewhere, the atmosphere was relaxed as artists worked on another enormous mural in downtown Manhattan today, after weeks of civil unrest.
Jon Souza of Thrive Collective, a local organization, was one of the artists working on the sizable project, which he said will be completed by tomorrow, July 3.
The mural was created outside the federal courthouse near the New York City Police Department (NYPD) headquarters, where just two days ago, a violent clash between protesters and cops ensued at One Police Plaza.
Souza explained that each artist or group was assigned a letter to work on and design together, while the demonstrations continued around the city.
Regarding Trump’s Twitter statements about the movement, Souza said that “you have to take it with a grain of salt.”
“I think what’s happening now there might be some differences of opinion,” he told The Sun. “Now this is what everybody needs: we all need our own form of art therapy.
“After coronavirus, we’ve all kind of gone through our own collective trauma, I think that art is one of the best ways to heal, to bring people together.”
Souza said these larger-than-life messages are a way to get a dialogue going about recent events and “not just putting an opinion out to argue.”
He said people who come to peaceful protests to agitate or cause trouble aren’t getting the message behind the anti-racism movement.
“Those people that were like looting or spray painting some stuff that was disconnecting, the graffiti community immediately disconnected from that,” he said, gesturing towards the artwork being done.
“This is an example of graff artists that are really trying to take it seriously and make sure that their message is done well, you know.”
When it came to defunding the NYPD, Souza felt it was important to look at the way fund are allocated and how taxes are used to represent people as a whole.
On Wednesday morning, the NYC Council approved a $1 billion cut to NYPD fund after pressure mounted on the mayor to shave down their budget.
Hours later, a Twitter feud ensued between Trump and de Blasio about the Black Lives Matter sign up on Millionaires Row.
“And yet the @NYCMayor is going to paint a big, expensive, yellow Black Lives Matter sign on Fifth Avenue, denigrating this luxury Avenue,” the President raged.
“This will further antagonize New York’s Finest, who LOVE New York & vividly remember the horrible BLM chant, ‘Pigs In A Blanket, Fry ‘Em Like Bacon.’
“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. Spend this money fighting crime instead!”
For artists like Souza, the mural and movement is about much more than just denigrating the police, he said.
“I see here some of the conversations about the way that they can put [those] resources into other things, such as mental health, education, investing in communities,” Souza explained, as his teammates worked on the letter “A” in the afternoon heat.
“That’s going to be the best way to open up the conversation so it doesn’t come off as being like you know ‘we hate the police.’
“Because if you’re going to do that then it’s always going to be a disagreement, but if you say ‘well actually, how do we make sure that everybody is getting what they need?’ then I don’t think anybody can argue about that.”