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Black Lives Matter mural in front of Trump Tower a 'symbol of hate,' Trump tweets

The president made the statement after New York City lawmakers approved a budget that will shift $1 billion from policing to education and social services.

Editor's note: The video above is from the Black Lives Matter mural painted in Washington, D.C., in June.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that a yellow "Black Lives Matter" mural to be painted on New York City's Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower would be a "symbol of hate."

The statement was made in a tweet after New York City lawmakers approved an austere budget Wednesday that will shift $1 billion from policing to education and social services in the coming year, acknowledging protesters' demands to cut police spending -- but falling short of what activists sought.

"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 tweeted.

City Hall officials announced last week that the “Black Lives Matter” rallying cry would be painted in bold letters on the street in front of the president's midtown skyscraper. It emulates similar murals in other cities, including in Washington, D.C., where it was painted on 16th Avenue leading up to Lafayette Square, across from the White House.

Credit: AP
In this June 6, 2020 photo provided by the Executive Office of the Mayor of Washington, DC, the Washington Monument and the White House are visible behind the words Black Lives Matter painted in bright yellow letters on the 16th Street, in Washington. On Thursday, June 25, 2020, President Donald Trump used Twitter to voice his displeasure with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to paint "Black Lives Matter" in front of Trump Tower in New York. (Khalid Naji-Allah/Executive Office of the Mayor via AP)

"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,'" Trump continued.

The Associated Press reports that has not in fact been a common chant at protests in New York or elsewhere since the death of George Floyd one month ago in Minneapolis police custody.

"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," Trump continued. "Spend this money fighting crime instead!"

Trump made similar statements last week when the mural was announced, but added the "symbol of hate" reference to his new attack Wednesday.

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Protesters have been camped outside New York City Hall, insisting that the city slash $1 billion from the New York Police Department’s budget amid a nationwide campaign to “defund” police — a movement animated by outrage over the deaths of Floyd and other Black Americans at the hands of police.

Critics of the deal said the billion dollar cut wasn’t a billion dollar cut at all. Some of the funding reduction, they noted, was merely shifting police functions like school safety to the Department of Education. And they doubted the promised reduction in overtime would ever happen.

The proposal did little to assuage the demonstrators. Many said they intended to stay outside City Hall indefinitely.

“We are being gaslit," said activist Jawanza James Williams. “This movement is about so much more than the $1 billion, and this means they don’t understand what we’re saying.”

The vote by the City Council came at an extraordinary moment when the nation's biggest city is grappling with a $9 billion revenue loss due to the coronavirus pandemic and simultaneously with pressure to cut back on policing and invest more in community and social programs.

Mayor Bill de Blasio supports the $88.2 billion spending plan. Council Speaker Corey Johnson said when the budget deal was announced Tuesday that it wasn't what he had hoped for, and lamented he hadn't been unable to negotiate a bigger police budget cut.

The Associated Press' Karen Matthews, Jennifer Pel and Michael R. Sisak contributed to this report.

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