Washington, D.C., has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to communities of all sizes — the chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime is reportedly one in 17.
But protesters on Saturday painted “defund the police” on the street near the White House, next to an official city street mural reading, “Black Lives Matter.”
Washington Post reporter Samantha Schmidt, who says in her Twitter bio that she covers “gender and family issues,” said Black Lives Matter organizers painted the message.
Black Lives Matter organizers are painting “Defund the Police” in yellow paint on 16th Street right now pic.twitter.com/62zFMPXXOo
— Samantha Schmidt (@schmidtsam7) June 7, 2020
Others said the perpetrators were members of a group called M4BL.
“M4BL is painting DEFUND POLICE next to DC Mayor Bowser’s BLACK LIVES MATTER as part of a movement to reappropriate funding from prisons to education, among other things, in Black communities,” wrote Kadia Goba, politics reporter at BuzzFeed News.
ICYMI: M4BL is painting DEFUND POLICE next to DC Mayor Bowser’s BLACK LIVES MATTER as part of a movement to reappropriate funding from prisons to education, among other things, in Black communities. pic.twitter.com/5sFR9bJ9fi
— GOBA (@kadiagoba) June 7, 2020
“For years, activists have pushed US cities and states to cut law enforcement budgets amid a dramatic rise in spending on police and prisons while funding for vital social services has shrunk or disappeared altogether,” The Guardian reported. “Government officials have long dismissed the idea as a leftist fantasy, but the recent unrest and massive budget shortfalls from the COVID-19 crisis appear to have inspired more mainstream recognition of the central arguments behind defunding.”
The “Defund the Police” movement is finding new support among leftists.
“To see legislators who aren’t even necessarily on the left supporting at least a significant decrease in New York police department [NYPD] funding is really very encouraging,” New York state Sen. Julia Salazar, a self-identified Democratic Socialist, told the Guardian. “It feels a little bit surreal.”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Friday had “Black Lives Matter” painted on the street that leads to the White House, near the site where protesters have been demonstrating following George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day.
“There are people who are craving to be heard and to be seen and to have their humanity recognized, and we had the opportunity to send that message loud and clear on a very important street in our city,” Bowser said at a press conference. “And it is that message, and that message is to the American people, that Black Lives Matter black humanity matters, and we as a city raise that up as part of our values as a city.”
On Sunday, she was asked about the “defund the police” message. Here’s the exchange Bowser had with Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week.”
RADDATZ: You also responded to President Trump, in part you mentioned this by honoring the Black Lives Matter movement with this pavement mural and a street sign along the blocks leading up to the White House. The Black Lives Matter D.C. Organization called it a performative gesture and now they’ve added the words defund the police, which they say they fear you will now remove. Is that right?
BOWSER: We certainly are very proud of the D.C. mural that we commissioned in our Department of Public Works and local artists installed. It is an affirmative piece of art, centering piece of art, where people from around the globe have called us and thanked us for acknowledging Black humanity and Black lives in the most important city in the world. And we are very proud of that art.
RADDATZ: But will you take out the part that says defund police?
BOWSER: Well it’s not a part of the mural, and we certainly encourage expression but we are using the city streets for city art.
RADDATZ: In other words, that will go away? You will paint over that?
BOWSER: I actually haven’t even had an opportunity to review it, Martha, but we — the response that we’ve gotten from people about the Black Lives Matter — Black Lives Matter mural has just been incredible.
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