NEW YORK — 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 Mayor Bill de Blasio and President Donald Trump, who rose to fame as a Manhattan real estate developer.
Shortly after 10 a.m., city Department of Transportation workers began filling in the first letters of the phrase on Fifth Avenue, between 56th and 57th Streets, in Manhattan. As school-bus yellow paint was spread on the asphalt, a number of activists, reporters and onlookers milled around, with some occasionally shouting criticism of Trump.
Since winning the presidential election in 2016, Trump has increasingly clashed with officials in his former home state, including not only de Blasio, but Manhattan’s district attorney, who issued a subpoena for eight years of Trump’s business and personal tax records.
On Thursday, as the painting began, the Supreme Court ruled that Trump could not shield his financial records from New York prosecutors.
The public art project was announced last month, and city officials have presented its location as a direct rebuke of 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 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.”
Trump appeared to take the bait; the announcement provoked an inflammatory response that tried to play on tensions between Black Lives Matter protesters and the New York Police Department.
Trump and de Blasio have sparred repeatedly in recent years. The mayor once said that New York would not “welcome back” Trump, who was born in Queens, after his presidency ended. Months later, the president, who has called de Blasio “the worst mayor in America,” switched his primary residence to Florida.
The public battle between the two intensified after de Blasio announced his Democratic presidential bid last year. The mayor made 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 mural in each of the city’s five boroughs.
The effort followed an act by Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, who had workers paint “Black Lives Matter” in giant yellow letters outside the White House after the president deployed federal officers during protests there.