Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser stood over Black Lives Matter Plaza to address the Democratic National Convention on Monday, calling for citizens to take action on racial justice and slamming the Trump administration's actions towards protesters in the capital.
The Democratic mayor evoked D.C.'s history of protests, from the March on Washington to demonstrations after the killing of George Floyd, to urge people to "come together" around the presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, who she called "our next vice president, my sister."
"We will say, 'next,'" Bowser said. "Together, we can turn this reckoning into a re-imagining of a nation."
She also criticized President Donald Trump and his administration for forcefully dispersing demonstrators who flooded D.C.'s streets to protest George Floyd's death in police custody.
"But while we were peacefully protesting, Donald Trump was plotting," Bowser said. "He stood in front of one of our most treasured houses of worship and held a Bible for a photo op. He sent troops in camouflage into our streets. He sent tear gas into the air and federal helicopters, too. I knew if he did this to D.C., he would do it to your city or your town."
Bowser spoke for a little over two minutes in front of the street mural along 16th Street NW that spells out in yellow letters that stretch from curb to curb: Black Lives Matter.
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"We can't just say those words," Bowser said. "We have to live those words. We have to undo the laws and systems that have codified racism for far too long."
Commissioning the mural earned Bowser worldwide media attention, and she told Democrats nationwide that she created it "as a place where we could come together to say 'enough.'"
Some local activists who demonstrated on that street weren't impressed. Black Lives Matter DC on Tuesday morning posted a tweet calling Bowser a "hypocrite" and criticized the arrest of 41 protesters in Northwest D.C. on Thursday night. Police used pepper spray during the confrontation.
Bowser also made her message to the convention personal, saying she wants a better future for her daughter, Miranda.
"I have a 2-year-old daughter," she said. "I want her to grow up in an America where she’s not scared to walk to the store. An America where she’s safe behind the doors of her own home. An America where the president doesn’t fan the flames of racism and looks out for all of us."