Black Lives Matter DC criticizes Mayor Bowser’s DNC remarks

In this image from video, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

The D.C. chapter of Black Lives Matter is criticizing Mayor Muriel Bowser after her remarks during the Democratic National Convention.

Bowser went after President Donald Trump and the federal response to protesters at Lafayette Square in June during her DNC appearance.

“He sent troops and camouflage into our streets,” Bowser said in a video, with BLM Plaza in the background, where she introduced George Floyd’s family. “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.”

But Bowser’s words have drawn sharp criticism from local advocates who say she is being hypocritical.

“Muriel Bowser has proven over and over again that she supports, she knows about and sanctions the violent way that police crack down on protesters,” BLM DC organizer April Goggans told WTOP.

“The fact that Mayor Bowser is introducing George Floyd’s family is disgusting. And that’s where we should be talking, and she did it on purpose, overlooking Black Lives Matter Plaza. All of these things are made to actually distract, make other people who don’t earn the right of talking about Black Lives Matter look like they’re leading it.”

Goggans said sitting down with the mayor, police leadership or city leadership wouldn’t accomplish anything.

“They’ve voiced how they feel all the time on TV, in press conferences and the media, as do we,” she said. “We don’t trust what they would say being anything different than what they would do. And I think that it’s important to understand that, because they are public people, that what they say and do should be in the public.”

Goggans added that she and her group have made their demands clear.

“So, there’s actually nothing more to talk about. They have just drawn a line in the sand, that they’re not interested in making the real shifts in both thinking and acting in ways that are no longer harmful to Black people,” Goggans said.

She does believe that the Black Lives Matter message is being heard throughout the D.C. area though. “I think, again, people are clear about what it is we’re talking about,” Goggans said.

Last week, D.C. police arrested 41 people after surrounding protesters in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. Prosecutors have so far declined to bring charges against most of those arrested.

Bowser ordered the Black Lives Matter mural painted back in June.

Shortly after, activists had added their own lettering — reading “Defund the Police” — criticizing Bowser’s move as a photo op.

That lettering was paved over last week. The city said it was part of previously planned roadwork.

WTOP’s Nick Iannelli contributed to this report.

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