A Black Lives Matter banner hanging outside of a City Hall building in Somerville, Massachusetts, is causing some serious controversy between the mayor and police from around the state. The banner, promoting the Black Lives Matter movement and cause, has been hanging in the same location for more than a year, and local cops are sick of looking at it.
On Thursday, the police officers in question, some 50 strong, rallied around the City Hall building in protest, demanding that the mayor take down the banner that, to them, has become an icon of a movement that’s resulted in slaughtered police officers.
As Fox News reports, most of the people opposed to the Black Lives Matter banner in Somerville, Massachusetts, are white. When they gathered outside of the City Hall building, the dozens of protesters chanted and waved picket signs, furious about what they call a “political statement,” and were not backing down from their demand that the Black Lives Matter banner be removed.
“All lives matter! Take it down! Cops lives matter! Support your local police.”
The protesters demanding the removal of the Massachusetts Black Lives Matter banner are largely represented by Harold MacGilvray. He is the president of a local group that represents over a thousand local police officers spanning dozens of municipalities, cities, and towns. According to MacGilvray, the Massachusetts public building is not the proper place for the Black Lives Matter banner.
Indeed, he doesn’t believe a building full of politicians is the place for any political slogans to be publicized.
Despite the large protest, the mayor of Somerville says he absolutely won’t be removing the Black Lives Matter banner from its prominent perch. Many of the protesters who gathered at the City Hall in the predominantly white city are the same constituents who elected Democratic Mayor Joe Curtatone, but still the Massachusetts mayor is unswayed. He told the public and demonstrators alike on Thursday that while he believes that it’s “okay to disagree,” the Black Lives Matter banner isn’t going anywhere.
He made the announcement, ironically, while being guarded by no fewer than three local police officers.
“That sign is not coming down.”
Despite being protected by a police chief and two deputy officers during his address to protesters, Mayor Joe Curtatone is being directly protested by his city’s own officers for his refusal to take down the Black Lives Matter banner. Somerville Police union representatives were among Thursday’s protesters.
According to the union president, local officers have no direct opposition to the Black Lives Matter cause per se, but they do feel that it is “disrespectful” for the mayor to display a Black Lives Matter banner on the Massachusetts City Hall building, especially in the wake of recent shootings and other attacks on police officers in the United States.
“In the face of the continuing assassination of innocent police officers across the country… it is irresponsible of the city to publicly declare support for the lives of one sector of our population to the exclusion of others.”
The above statement was made by a representative supporting the use of “Cops Lives Matter” banners and signs.
While many of the people who showed up at the Massachusetts City Hall were there to show their displeasure at the display of the Black Lives Matter banner, others came to the event to express their appreciation to the city’s mayor, a mayor who has refused to bow to pressure and remove the so-called “controversial” display.
At the end of the protest, headed by police and filled with their blue signs and loud chants, a handful of supporters loyal to the Black Lives Matter movement stuck around to thank the mayor. Others held signs underscoring the need for the Black Lives Matter social crusade to continue.
“All lives can’t matter until black lives matter.”
Joe Curtatone, the mayor of the Massachusetts town, has held his position since 2004. He is also the child of first-generation immigrants. He states that it is possible and even necessary to defend minorities and defend police at the same time. According to Curtatone, police didn’t complain about “political statements” when the city hung a banner to memorialize police officers that have recently been killed in the line of duty.
“Both of those banners are hanging for the same reason: Too many people have died in a cycle of violence that needs to be stopped.”
Despite the complaints of law enforcement and avid police supporters across the state, it appears unlikely that the Black Lives Matter banner will be coming down as long as the mayor has anything to say about it. What do you think? Is the Massachusetts mayor correct in standing by his cause and convictions, or should he honor the wishes of protesting residents and law enforcement and remove the Black Lives Matter banner?
[Image via Shutterstock]