Street near White House renamed to honour Black Lives Matter

5 June 2020, 20:16

Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

A street in front of the White House has been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza in honour of the movement amid ongoing protests across the US.

Washington DC's mayor, Muriel Bowser, said on Friday that a part of 16th Street had officially been renamed, and tweeted video of a street sign being erected.

"Black Lives Matter" was also painted in huge yellow letters on the street to mark the occasion.

The street was emblazoned with yellow letters spelling out 'Black Lives Matter' to mark the change
The street was emblazoned with yellow letters spelling out 'Black Lives Matter' to mark the change. Picture: PA

Drawing from a quote from Martin Luther King, Ms Bowser tweeted: "...I'm happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we're going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demand didn't force them to do it."

READ MORE: Mourners gather in Minneapolis to pay respect to George Floyd

The street, which connects Lafayette Square and the White House, has been the setting for ongoing protests in the American capital over the last week in response to the death of an unarmed black at the hands of a white police officer.

Now infamous footage from last Monday shows a handcuffed George Floyd laying face down on a street in Minneapolis, while officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck.

READ MORE: President Trump says New York is 'lost' to 'lowlifes and scum' amid protests

George Floyd died at the hands of a white police officer last Monday
George Floyd died at the hands of a white police officer last Monday. Picture: PA

Despite Mr Floyd warning Chauvin that he couldn't breathe, the officer remained in place for more than eight minutes.

The 46-year-old never regained consciousness from the incident - and Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder.

Three other police officers have also been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.

READ MORE: Police officers across the US take a knee to honour George Floyd and the protests

What followed was an outpouring of anger across America, with nightly protests nationwide and a fiercely revived debate about racist practices in the US judicial system.

READ MORE: Protesters tear gassed so Donald Trump can have photos taken at church

READ MORE: Lorry drives into protest for George Floyd on Minneapolis highway

On Friday, Ms Bowser's chief of staff tweeted that his boss had wanted to formally mark the protests that had reached DC.

He said: "There was a dispute this week about whose street this is.

"Mayor Bowser wanted to make it abundantly clear that this is DC’s street and to honour demonstrators who peacefully protesting on Monday evening."

But - this sentiment wasn't taken as a positive one in some areas of the city, with the Washington DC arm of Black Lives Matter saying a renamed road wasn't enough.

In a tweet, it said: "This is a performative distraction from real policy changes. Bowser has consistently been on the wrong side of BLMDC history.

"This is to appease white liberals while ignoring our demands. Black Lives Matter means defund the police."

READ MORE: Donald Trump says all Americans should get equal treatment 'in every encounter' with police

Later on Friday, Donald Trump said he believed every US citizen should receive equal treatment from officers as he expressed hope that George Floyd would be "looking down saying this is a great thing" for the country.

"It's a great day for him; it's a great day for everybody. It's a great, great day in terms of equality," the US president told reporters at the White House.

He then suggested that he would like to see changes - but did not elaborate on what this could entail.