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Bowser: ‘It’s My Responsibility to Defend D.C.’

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said her decision earlier this month to paint the words “BLACK LIVES MATTER” on a street leading to the White House was partly driven by her wanting to “push back forcefully” against the way the federal government had “encroached” upon the District’s autonomy.

“It is my responsibility to defend our city,” Bowser told Time’s Kimberly Dozier during an interview Thursday for the magazine’s Time 100 Talks discussion series.

Bowser said she saw painting the mural on June 5 “as an opportunity to reclaim a place on 16th Street that the federal government had moved into,” as well as a chance to “send a unifying and affirming message about what this time and the reaction to the killing of George Floyd means in our country.”

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. His death has spurred weeks of massive protests worldwide and renewed the national discussion on police brutality and racial inequality.

In the days following Floyd’s death, tensions between the Trump administration and D.C. government had become so apparent that federal officials had reportedly explored taking over the D.C. police force,” Time reported.

Bowser said that she “[pushed] back hard” against that possibility “with every argument that I could muster.”

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