Logo for canvasopedia.org
Logo TactisForChange
Dilemma Actions MapCase StudiesMethodsIndexAbout UsContact Us

Jun 5, 2020-2020

United States of America

Black Lives Matter Plaza in D.C.



BLM supporters




Police should be held accountable for their actions.


Issue and Opposition: A series of protests following George Floyd’s death due to police brutality in Minneapolis spread across the country in 2020. George Floyd was a 46-year-old black man who was killed when Derek Chauvin, a white law enforcement officer of Minneapolis PD, pinned Floyd down with his knee for 9 minutes 29 seconds on his until he asphyxiated to death. Floyd had allegedly used a counterfeit 20-dollar bill in a grocery store nearby. Floyd was yet another victim of police brutality in a long line of such deaths of black people in the USA, sometimes without any real crime being committed. Following Floyd’s killing, the protests that broke out were mostly peaceful civil disobedience campaigns led by Black Lives Matter (BLM) leaders although, in a few instances, the actions turned violent, and looting of shops and damaging of public and private properties ensued. In Washington DC, protesters and activists supporting the BLM movement, condemning mindless police atrocities endangering black lives, and demanding greater police accountability, gathered on the streets outside the White House in peaceful demonstrations. Despite no provocation from the protesters, President Trump ordered law enforcement agencies to use tear gas on the crowd to dispel them. Usually, the tear gas of any type is used on the crowd to contain a riot-like situation, which was not the scene in Washington DC on June 1, 2020. Once the crowd was cleared by the use of chemical irritants, Trump took a walk, and crossed the street to Lafayette Square, for a photo op with a Bible held in his hand in front of the St. John’s church. DC Mayor Muriel Bower had shown her support to the BLM supporters and retaliated against Trump’s treatment of BLM activists and protesters in a unique way.
Dilemma Action: Muriel Bowser recruited local artists and got the words Black Lives Matter painted in large yellow alphabets on the streets leading to the White House. Renaming streets to embarrass or taunt officials or diplomats is not new to Wahington DC. In 1980, the street on which the Soviet Embassy was situated was renamed after an arrested dissenter and Putin critic Andrew Sakharov. In 2018, the street on which the Russian ambassador’s residence stood was renamed after Boris Nemtsov, a slain Putin critic and dissenter. More recently, in 2021, the street outside the Saudi Embassy was renamed after Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Washington Post journalist who was allegedly killed by Saudi state actors for criticizing his government.
Outcome: The purpose of BLM Plaza and other renamings of streets is to troll, embarrass, and ridicule an authority and draw media attention to wrongdoing by that authority. To that extent, this dilemma action was thoroughly successful.


Civil Rights and Equality


New signs and names



10 / 12

(EREP) Dilemma action got replicated by other movements

(MC) Media Coverage

(MSYMP) Media coverage was sympathetic to the activists

(OR) Opponent response

(PS) Dilemma action built sympathy with the public

(PUN) Punishment favored the activists

(REFR) Dilemma action reframed the narrative of the opponent

(RF) Dilemma action reduced fear and/or apathy among the activists

(SA) Dilemma action appealed to a broad segment of the public



3 / 3

Activist group continued working together after the action

Encouraged more participants to join the movement

Internally replicated by the same movement


Project documentation

Dilemma Actions Coding Guidebook

Case study documentation


CC BY 4.0 Deed, Attribution 4.0 International


Washington D.C. “Guide to Black Lives Matter Plaza,” Retrieved July 23, 2023. (https://washington.org/visit-dc/black-lives-matter-plaza).

https://code.dccouncil.us/dc/council/acts/23-337.html. Accessed April 15, 2022.

Al Jazeera. 2020. “DC mayor inaugurates ‘Black Lives Matter’ Plaza near White House,” Retrieved July 23, 2023. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/6/5/dc-mayor-inaugurates-black-lives-matter-plaza-near-white-house).

Duster, Chandelis. 2020. “Civil rights icon John Lewis calls Black Lives Matter mural ‘a powerful work of art’ during visit with DC mayor,” CNN Politics. Retrieved July 23, 2023. (https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/07/politics/john-lewis-visits-black-lives-matter-mural/index.html).

Related cases

Oct 3, 2007-2007


“Janadesh” Forest Land occupation by tribals

Issues and Opposition: Although India won its independence from colonial rule in 1947, it did not fulfill many of its promises to the Indian citizens. Especially margi...

Accountability / Corruption


Nonviolent occupatio...

Read more

Jul 31, 2020-2021


Many citizens in Zimbabwe have suffered from the failure of political representation, corruption, human rights issues, freedom of speech, and assembly. Due to this, th...

Accountability / Corruption
Human rights
Communications with ...



Oct 1, 2019-2019

New Zealand

As part of the movement begun by Greta Thurnsburg’s Fridays for Future, the Extinction Rebellion organization implemented its Global Day of Action to capitalize on the...

Noncooperation with ...


Social disobedience

Subscribe to our newsletters to get full access to all materials on our website.

Logo for canvasopedia.org
Logo TactisForChange
Dilemma Actions MapCase StudiesMethodsIndexAbout UsContact Us

© 2024 Tactics4 Change. All rights reserved. Read our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.