Work has begun on the “Black Lives Matter” mural being painted outside Trump Tower in New York, after Donald Trump described it as a "symbol of hate."
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio attended to help paint the large yellow letters outside the Trump Organisation's headquarters on Thursday.
"Our city isn’t just painting the words on Fifth Avenue. We’re committed to the meaning of the message. #BlackLivesMatter," Mr de Blasio tweeted.
“This is such an important moment for our city,” Mayor de Blasio told volunteers, according to The New York Post. “We are making a statement today of what we value in New York City.”
Some members of the central park five were also said to have helped paint the mural, NBC New York reporter Myles N Miller reported.
Last year Mr Trump refused to apologise for saying the men should be executed in 2014, having taken out four full-page ads in four New York City newspapers demanding the death penalty be reinstated.
Mr de Blasio announced the plans for the mural in June amid widespread disapproval at Trump administration inaction over both Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
"Whenever Trump comes back to his old state [New York], he'll get a message that he still doesn't understand,” wrote Mr de Blasio on Twitter last month. “Maybe seeing outside his doorstep will help him get the point."
Mr Trump, who tear-gassed protesters outside the White House and denounced Black Lives Matter demonstrations over the past month, said New Yorkers would be “denigrating this luxury Avenue” with the mural.
The US president also pushed New York’s police department to block the mural’s installation, after Mr de Blasio and New York City council passed budget cuts on the department last week.
“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,“ wrote the president on Twitter. “Spend this money fighting crime instead!”
On Mr Trump’s comments, Mr de Blasio told the president that “the fact that you see it as denigrating your street is the definition of racism.”
“Here’s what you don’t understand: Black people BUILT 5th Ave and so much of this nation. Your ‘luxury’ came from THEIR labour, for which they have never been justly compensated. We are honouring them,” he added.
New York’s Black Lives Matter mural comes after Washington DC mayor Muriel Bowser painted the same letters on what was renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza amid demonstrations last month.