Donald Trump appeared to encourage New York police to turn against the city's mayor over his plans to paint a giant Black Lives Matter mural in front of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.
The US president hinted on Twitter on Wednesday that he thought the NYPD should block the mural, which he called a “symbol of hate” that would “denigrate this luxury Avenue”.
Mayor Bill De Blasio said: "Whenever Trump comes back to his old state (New York), he'll get a message that he still doesn't understand. Maybe seeing outside his doorstep will help him get the point."
Mr Trump responded on Wednesday, writing: “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. This will further antagonize New York’s Finest, who LOVE New York.
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. This will further antagonize New York’s Finest, who LOVE New York & vividly remember the....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2020
“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.”
Mr de Blasio, a Democrat, replied to the president’s message on Twitter, saying: “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 fact that you see it as denigrating your street is the definition of racism.”
The slogan will be stenciled outside Trump Tower, where the president stays when he is in town, sometime before the July 4 weekend.
Mr de Blasio is said to have got the idea from a similar sign that was painted in large letters feet from the White House last month. Muriel Bowser, Washington DC’s Democratic mayor, also renamed a street Black Lives Matter Plaza.
It came as New York City lawmakers approved a budget that cuts $1billion from the NYPD's annual $6billion budget as calls by anti-racism protesters to defund law enforcement sweep the US.
The NYPD has approximately 36,000 police officers, more than any other force in America.
It faces criticism for using force against largely peaceful protesters who demonstrated against the death of Floyd on May 25. Mr de Blasio defended the heavy-handed tactics.
Activists, who have been protesting outside City Hall, say the budget needs to make a substantial, not symbolic, difference in advancing racial justice and curbing the size and power of the nation's largest police force.