New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced the delay of the painting of the “Black Lives Matter” slogan on Fifth Avenue, coming a day after he faced criticism from President Donald Trump about the move.
“It has been postponed due to scheduling change,” a City Hall spokeswoman told the New York Post and other news outlets on Thursday. “We’ll be sending out more details in the coming days on a new date,” she said.
The painting was slated for 11 a.m., according to local activists.
“I do not know” about why it was postponed, Black Lives Matter activist Michael Tucker told the newspaper. “I’m trying to figure that out myself.”
“The city alerted us late last night it would not be moving forward the mural today. We have no additional details at this time,” Jerome Barth, who is in charge of the Fifth Avenue Association, was quoted as saying.
The mayor’s office hasn’t responded to a request for comment.
Earlier in the week, Trump criticized the move after the New York City Council voted to cut $1 billion from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) budget in the wake of sometimes violent demonstrations and a pressure campaign from activists.
“NYC is cutting Police $’s by ONE BILLION DOLLARS, and yet the @NYCMayor is going to paint a big, expensive yellow Black Lives Matter sign on Fifth Avenue, denigrating this luxury avenue,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
“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!” he also wrote, adding that the budget cuts will further antagonize NYPD officers.
Earlier in the day, de Blasio told MSNBC that the “Black Lives Matter” slogan would be painted near the Trump Tower.
“Obviously we want the president to hear it because he’s never shown respect for those three words,” he said. “When he hears Black Lives Matter, he presents a horrible negative reality of something that doesn’t exist, and he misses the underlying meaning that we’re saying we have to honor the role of African Americans in our history and our society.”
The budget cuts come amid a crime wave in New York City that has included a spike in shootings and shooting deaths. Seemingly random attacks on elderly people in broad daylight have been reported, with videos of some incidents going viral on social media in recent weeks.
Data from the NYPD show that homicides across the city have risen more than 21 percent over the first six months of 2020, and shootings are also up about 46 percent over 2019’s figures, according to NBC4.