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[Newsmaker] Black Lives Matter banner removed from US Embassy building in Seoul

June 16, 2020 - 14:47 By Ock Hyun-ju

The US Embassy in Seoul said Tuesday that the Black Lives Matter banner draped on the facade of its building in Seoul had been removed to “avoid misperception” amid reports about President Donald Trump’s displeasure over the display.

The embassy hung the banner on the front of its building Saturday in what was seen as a rare show of open support for the Black Lives Matter movement, with the US Embassy earlier tweeting a message in support of the anti-racism campaign across the US and worldwide.

The banner was put up “to communicate a message of solidarity with Americans concerned with racism,” but the intent of the US ambassador to South Korea, Harry Harris, was “not to support or encourage donations to any specific organization,” according to the embassy.

“To avoid the misperception that American taxpayer dollars were spent to benefit such organizations, he directed that the banner be removed,” an embassy spokesperson said in a text message sent to The Korea Herald.

“This in no way lessens the principles and ideals expressed by raising the banner, and the embassy will look for other ways to convey fundamental American values in these times of difficulty at home,” it said.

The removal of the banner came after Trump, who has faced criticism for his response to nationwide protests across the US, expressed displeasure about the banner when he learned about it, according to a report by Reuters quoting two anonymous sources.

Triggered by the killing last month of an African American man George Floyd in police custody, the rallies against racism and police brutality raged across the world, including in Korea, albeit at a much smaller scale locally.

On June 6, organized by a Korean man, some 150 people marched across Seoul in a peaceful rally over the death of the unarmed black man. The same day, black communities and their supporters here took to social media at noon for an online rally to demand justice for Floyd.

By Ock Hyun-ju (