A “Black Lives Matter” banner hanging in front of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul was reportedly taken down after it was brought to the attention of President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
According to a Bloomberg report on Monday morning, the banner was removed after it was brought to the attention of Trump and Pompeo, who were “displeased” by it. A multicolored “pride” banner paying tribute to the LGBTQ community was taken down as well. Both were replaced by a banner commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Korean War.
The “Black Lives Matter” banner was placed on the building on Saturday amid protests worldwide in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
“The U.S. Embassy stands in solidarity with fellow Americans grieving and peacefully protesting to demand positive change,” the embassy tweeted on Saturday with a photo of the banner. “Our #BlackLivesMatter banner shows our support for the fight against racial injustice and police brutality as we strive to be a more inclusive & just society.”
The U.S. Embassy stands in solidarity with fellow Americans grieving and peacefully protesting to demand positive change. Our #BlackLivesMatter banner shows our support for the fight against racial injustice and police brutality as we strive to be a more inclusive & just society. pic.twitter.com/Y4Thr2MRdw
— U.S. Embassy Seoul (@USEmbassySeoul) June 13, 2020
Upon the removal of the banners on Monday, the embassy told Bloomberg that U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris did not intend “to support or encourage donations to any specific organization” and that he ordered the removal of the “Black Lives Matter” banner “to avoid the misperception that American taxpayer dollars were spent to benefit such organizations.”
Harris’ latest statement starkly contrasts his retweet of the embassy’s tweet about the banners on Saturday, when he referenced former President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
When Dr. Benjamin Mays delivered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s eulogy in 1968, he said Dr. King’s "unfinished work on earth must truly be our own." Recent weeks remind us that MLK’s work remains unfinished. Friends, I believe that work falls on each of us today.
— Harry Harris (@USAmbROK) June 13, 2020
The White House declined when asked by TPM for comment. The State Department did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.
Bloomberg’s report comes a week after CNN reported on State Department officials privately fuming over Pompeo’s “deafening” silence as protests in the wake of Floyd’s death spread worldwide, saying that they received little or no guidance since protests broke out in front of U.S. embassies.