Police in Massachusetts are protesting a mayor’s refusal to remove a Black Lives Matter banner that’s hanging over city hall. Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone has declined repeated requests by the city police officers’ union to replace the banner with one that reads “All Lives Matter.” The banner has been up for nearly a year.
Union president Michael McGrath says the union supports the “core goal” of the Black Lives Matter movement, but believes the current banner sends an “exclusionary message” and is “disrespectful” to officers. He says union members and other officers from around the state will hold a rally Thursday evening.
The Democratic mayor says standing up for black residents and supporting police aren’t mutually exclusive. He notes the city also honors officers recently slain in Texas and Louisiana with a banner over police headquarters.
Almost two weeks ago, President Barack Obama had said it’s key for officers to get to know the community they’re protecting. Also critical, he said, was to better train police to avoid “implicit biases.” “We all carry around with us some assumptions about other people,” Obama said. If people are honest with themselves, he added, “oftentimes there is a presumption that black men are dangerous.”
He had also offered a rare reflection on how he felt racism had affected him personally, recalling how as a young boy in Hawaii, a female neighbor didn’t recognize him and refused to ride in the same elevator. “In that sense, what is true for me is true for a lot of African-American men,” he had said.