NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio grabbed a roller Thursday and helped paint the words "Black Lives Matter" front of the namesake Manhattan tower of President Donald Trump.
De Blasio was flanked by his wife, Chirlane McCray, and the Rev. Al Sharpton as he helped paint the racial justice rallying cry in giant yellow letters on Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower.
"We are liberating Fifth Avenue," de Blasio said. "We are uplifting Fifth Avenue."
The NYC Department of Transportation closed off the avenue between 56th and 57th streets around 7 a.m. Thursday in preparation for the painting.
The DOT said the block would remain closed to automobile traffic until Sunday, however, the bus lane will be operational sooner.
The mural was originally set to be painted on July 2, but was postponed due to "logistics," de Blasio said at the time.
Mayor de Blasio just arrived with @TheRevAl and @NYCFirstLady.
Responding to President Trump’s remarks last week where he said #BLM mural will denigrate 5th Ave. Mayor said they are here to “liberate” it @PIX11News pic.twitter.com/Gfym3sTEqO
— Andrew Ramos (@AndrewRamosTV) July 9, 2020
#BLM MIDTOWN MURAL: @NYC_DOT stenciling begins outside Trump Tower. @PIX11News @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/WkOIH0fx2C
— Anthony DiLorenzo (@ADiLorenzoTV) July 9, 2020
De Blasio first announced the mural in late June, saying it would be painted by Trump Tower on the famed avenue, that specific location selected for a reason.
"Painting 'Black Lives Matter; outside his home is a message to him that in fact black lives do matter, that black people built New York City and they've never been compensated for all they did," the mayor said.
Dozens of cities across the country have painted similar murals on city streets, following in the footsteps of Washington, D.C.
President Donald Trump has slammed the planned mural, calling it a "symbol of hate" in a series of tweets earlier in July.
Trump claimed the mural would be "denigrating this luxury Avenue" and "will further antagonize New York's Finest."
De Blasio fired back on Twitter saying, "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 fact that you see it as denigrating your street is the definition of racism," his tweets read.
This story was originally published by Mark Sundstrom, Anthony DiLorenzo, Andrew Ramos on WPIX in New York.