The first street to be co-named and painted will be near City Hall. On June 9, 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the City will begin to co-name and paint selected streets in all five boroughs in honor of the Black Lives Matter movement. The Black Lives Matter movement, which began in 2013, works to address the issue of state and vigilante violence against Black individuals and works to bring equity to Black communities. Recently, the Black Lives Matter movement has been part of the protests against systemic racism and police misconduct that have occurred in response to the death of George Floyd. Mayor de Blasio announced the street co-naming and painting initiative to commemorate the efforts of Black Lives Matter activists.
As a part of the initiative, the de Blasio administration will work with the City Council on legislation to co-name one street in each borough as “Black Lives Matter” and work with community activists to paint the selected street with the phrase. The first street to be co-named and painted will be near City Hall in Manhattan. The remaining four locations in the outer boroughs will be determined by the Mayor’s Office and the City Council.
On June 5, 2020, a similar initiative was done in Washington D.C. by Mayor Muriel Bowser. Mayor Bowser renamed a portion of 16th Street NW, a portion of the street that leads to the White House, as “Black Lives Matter Plaza.” The Mayor also allowed that portion of the street to be painted with the phrase “Black Lives Matter” in yellow.
“The streets of our city will now affirm the vital work activists have done to bring us forward. With a street in every borough painted with the words Black Lives Matter, we are recognizing where we have been and looking forward to where we will go,” stated Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“Renaming and repainting a street is a modest testament to the massive challenge ahead of us. But in so doing we will, literally, set down a marker for our current goals and mark this era for future generations…[As] New Yorkers and visitors walk downtown past some of America’s most historic landmarks, ‘Black Lives Matter Way’ will add to that history,” stated Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.
The street co-naming and painting initiative is one action the City is taking in response to the recent protests. On June 9, 2020, the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety held a public hearing on five bills that address the issue of police conduct and procedure.
By: May Vutrapongvatana (May is the CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2019).