White House forces US embassy in South Korea to take down Black Lives Matter banner

The US embassy in South Korea has taken down a Black Lives Matter banner, reportedly after pressure from US leaders.

The large banner went up on Saturday but was removed on Monday.

US media said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump were unhappy with the display.

People have marched around the world as part of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in the US last month.

After taking the banner down, the embassy said it did not intend to “support or encourage donations to any specific organisation”.

When the banner was originally displayed on Saturday, the embassy tweeted a photo of it, along with a message of support both in Korean and English.

“The US Embassy stands in solidarity with fellow Americans grieving and peacefully protesting to demand positive change,” the embassy tweet said.

“Our #BlackLivesMatter banner shows our support for the fight against racial injustice and police brutality as we strive to be a more inclusive and just society.”

The ambassador, Harry Harris, also tweeted a picture of the banner, saying: “USA is a free and diverse nation… from that diversity we gain our strength.”

But two days later the banner came down. A rainbow flag, symbolising gay rights, was also removed.

On Tuesday, the embassy posted a picture of a new banner, honouring Korean War veterans.

CNN reported that the BLM banner’s removal was requested by the State Department leadership. Bloomberg, meanwhile, reported that Mr Trump was “displeased” with it.

According to CNN, the State Department said the US government does not encourage contributions to the group [BLM] or promote any specific organisation.

After the banner’s removal, embassy spokesperson William Coleman said the “intent was not to support or encourage donations to any specific organisation”.

“To avoid the misperception that American taxpayer dollars were spent to benefit such organisations, [the ambassador] directed that the banner be removed,” Mr Coleman said.

He added “this in no way lessens the principles and ideals expressed by raising the banner”.