"It's an important message to the whole nation, and obviously we want the president to hear it because he's never shown respect for those three words," Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday

By Eric Todisco
July 02, 2020 02:03 PM
Trump Tower in New York City. Inset: President Donald Trump.
Epics/Getty; Inset: Drew Angerer/Getty

President Donald Trump had a lot to say on Wednesday following the news that the New York City police budget is being cut by about $1 billion, or one-sixth of their funding, and Black Lives Matter will be painted on the street in font of his Fifth Avenue Trump Tower.

Trump, 74, lashed out on Twitter at N.Y.C. Mayor Bill de Blasio, a regular object of his scorn, and he called Black Lives Matter a "symbol of hate" while claiming the movement's supporters wish harm on police.

"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," the president wrote on Wednesday. "This will further antagonize New York’s Finest, who LOVE New York & vividly remember the horrible BLM chant, 'Pigs In A Blanket, Fry ‘Em Like Bacon.' "

(The chant Trump referred to was briefly heard at a 2015 event, according to CBS News.)

The Black Lives Matter painting had been slated to begin Thursday, according to reports, but city officials said it was delayed until next week. Other paintings will go up around the city as well, local TV station WNBC reported.

"It's an important message to the whole nation, and obviously we want the president to hear it because he's never shown respect for those three words," de Blasio, 59, said on MSNBC on Wednesday. A similar painting was done near the White House.

In the wake of George Floyd's death in May, there have been large demonstrations across the country against racial injustice and police misconduct.

Some advocates have urged cities to "defund the police" and allocate taxpayer money to social services; many politicians have called for various types of reform instead, and polling shows defunding is generally unpopular.

On Tuesday, de Blasio announced that city officials agreed on a $88.1 billion proposed budget that includes deep cuts to the police and other city agencies, in the wake of economic slowdowns from the novel coronavirus.

Under the agreed budget, New York police funding would be reduced to about $5 billion.

A George Floyd protest outside the Barclays Center in New York City
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Responding to Trump's string of angry tweets, de Blasio said he was a racist.

"Here’s what you don’t understand: Black people BUILT 5th Ave and so much of this nation," de Blasio wrote back on Twitter Wednesday. "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."

De Blasio added: "You also don’t know that NY’s Finest are now a majority people of color. They already know Black Lives Matter. There is no 'symbol of hate' here. Just a commitment to truth. Only in your mind could an affirmation of people’s value be a scary thing."

On Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — who has sparred with both Trump and de Blasio at times — said that he's unsure what the police budget reductions mean.

"Well they have a billion dollars less," Cuomo, 62, said during a press briefing. "What does that mean? Does it mean I'm less safe? Where did you take the billion dollars from? Does it mean I'm more safe? Does it have any effect on police abuse? I don't know what it means."

Cuomo then drew attention to de Blasio's plans for the Black Lives Matter street painting.

"Great. I said from day one I stand with the protestors," the governor said. "I said from day one I stand with Black Lives Matter. I said 'great' with what this nation has done standing up after Mr. Floyd's murder."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

However, Cuomo questioned why the inclusion of the Black Lives Matter sign was not done after previous incidents of police brutality, such as after the death of Eric Garner in 2014 and or the beating of Rodney King in 1991.

"It took a long time but we're here now. Great," he said. "Send that message to Mr. Trump: Black Lives Matter. Excessive force has to stop. Using the National Guard to stop protestors has to stop."

"You know what's better?" Cuomo added. "Do something. Do something."