Trump says NYC painting 'Black Lives Matter' in front of Trump Tower is a 'symbol of hate'

The president, a former New York City resident, complained that such an action by the city would be "denigrating this luxury Avenue."
Image:  Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York City
Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York City on June 22, 2020.Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images

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By David K. Li and Shannon Pettypiece

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Wednesday lashed out at New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio over plans to paint "Black Lives Matter" on the street in front of Trump Tower.

Trump called the project a "symbol of hate" that would be "denigrating" Fifth Avenue, the Manhattan thoroughfare known for high-priced apartments and luxury shopping.

City lawmakers this week agreed on a $88.1 billion proposed budget that includes deep cuts to the NYPD. Since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, advocates for reform in law enforcement have been urging cities to "defund the police," and divert taxpayer money to other social service needs.

"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 raged in a tweet.

"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'. 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!"

Trump is a former New York City real estate developer who grew up in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood of Queens. Last year he formally changed his primary residence to Florida.

De Blasio responded via Twitter and said Trump was out of touch.

"Here’s what you don’t understand: Black people BUILT 5th Ave and so much of this nation. Your 'luxury' came from THEIR labor, for which they have never been justly compensated. We are honoring them," the mayor wrote. "The fact that you see it as denigrating your street is the definition of racism."

The "pigs" chant cited by Trump likely comes from a 2015 incident when some Black Lives Matter protesters yelled it at the Minnesota State Fair.

Trahern Crews, an organizer of that event, has said the incident was taken out of context. He claims the chant was a joke, sparked by a police officer who was escorting marchers.

"The police who were along escorting the marchers wanted to be a part of the march or a part of the demonstration," Crews told MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes."

"So on the way back, the officer leading the parade ... was laughing and joking with the marchers, so then the marchers kind of started chanting that towards him. It was more playful than anything."

Still, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday equated the whole Black Lives Matter movement to that single chant.

"That symbol, when you look at some of the things that have been chanted by Black Lives Matter, 'Pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon,' that's not an acceptable phrase to paint on our streets," McEnany said.

"He agrees that all black lives matter, including that of officer David Dorn, Patrick Underwood, two officers whose lives were taken amid these riots. He doesn't agree with an organization that chants 'pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon' about our police officers who are on the street."

Dorn was a retired St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department captain who was killed while protecting a friend's pawn shop from looters last week, authorities said.

Underwood, 53, was working for Homeland Security's Federal Protective Service when he was gunned down on May 29 while guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo, 32, has been arrested and prosecutors said he's connected to the far right, anti-government Boogaloo movement.

Shannon Pettypiece reported from Washington, D.C., and David K. Li reported from New York City