Blue Lives Matter.
Somerville, Massachusetts is an interesting city just outside of Boston. The densely occupied community is home to lots of old school Boston blue-collar types while also being extremely diverse. It’s also hipster heaven, as anyone who’s ever been to Davis Square can tell you.
A Black Lives Matter banner has been hanging on Somerville City Hall for a while, but after the recent rash of shootings directed at police, the Somerville PD asked to have it taken down. The mayor declined the request and tensions are now mounting.
Police officers rally against ‘Black Lives Matter’ banner at Somerville City Hall
After a week of tension between Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone and members of the city’s police department over a “Black Lives Matter” banner hanging at City Hall, police officers from across the state gathered outside the building to request again that the mayor remove it.
“We do not oppose the nucleus of the Black Lives Matter movement or some of its ideology,” Michael McGrath, the president of the Somerville Police Employee’s Association, said at the rally Thursday evening where around 200 people, including union officers and Somerville residents, came to show either support or opposition to the request. “Our core values are similar: Equality for everyone regardless of race.”
But displaying the banner across a city building sends a message that excludes police, McGrath said. That’s why the union penned an open letter to Curtatone last week, calling his decision to display the banner at City Hall “deeply” troubling, and its message “disrespectful.” The union is the bargaining unit for 90-95 Somerville patrol officers.
Curtatone responded, saying the banner was meant to show the city’s commitment to equality and inclusivity. He refused to remove the banner, and noted that a similar one paying homage to slain police officers over the department’s headquarters showed the city’s commitment to both law enforcement and members of the community.
“Peaceful protest to end violence and injustice stands at the core of our nation’s values and our democracy and we will continue our peaceful protest via the banner,” Curtatone said in a statement last week after receiving the letter.
Curtatone hung the banner at City Hall last August. At the time, McGrath said union members came to him, asking what he planned to do about the banner.
Nothing, he told them. But after several police officers across the country were killed, McGrath said he began to see the banner differently.
WCVB News in Boston filed this report:
The murder of police officers is definitely shifting public opinion on Black Lives Matter.
This recent column at CNN is further proof:
Is Black Lives Matter blowing it?
Here’s a question for both supporters and critics of the Black Lives Matter movement:
What does Black Lives Matter want?
Not sure? How about this. Can you cite a moment in which a BLM leader passionately and eloquently denounced the recent shooting deaths of eight police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge? Can you name one or two leaders from the movement?
Chances are the answers to those questions fall all over the place. Four years after its founding, BLM is still a movement without a clear meaning for many Americans. Some see it has a hate group; others as cutting-edge activism and yet others as just a step above a mob.
“Most of the folks in the movement are young and we’re black so they assume we’re uneducated and uninformed and we’re just angry and in the streets,” says Johnetta Elzie, a leader in the BLM movement and Campaign Zero, another organization formed to fight police brutality.
Those assumptions may now get worse as BLM leaders confront a make-or-break moment that virtually all protest movements eventually face: What happens when your enemies and unexpected events do a better job of defining your movement than you do?
BLM leaders are under a new kind of scrutiny because of a whiplash of unexpected events: cell phone videos of two black men who died from police gunfire followed by the ambush and killings of five police officers in Dallas at a Black Lives Matter protest, and three police officers targeted and killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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