A Massachusetts mayor decided to keep a Black Lives Matter banner hanging in front of the town’s city hall, despite calls from police to remove.
Mayor Joseph Curtatone announced Thursday that a banner declaring “Black Lives Matter” would not be taken down from city hall in Somerville, Massachusetts, reports ABC News. Previously, the police union president asked the mayor to replace it with a banner saying “All lives matter.”
“The mayor has clearly chosen a side, and it’s not to support law enforcement,” President Michael McGrath of the Somerville Police Employees Association told ABC News.
McGrath wrote a letter to the mayor earlier this week, saying the the banner was “demoralizing” given the recent violence against cops. The letter referred to the police involvement in the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray. McGrath argued that the police’s actions were right because a court absolved them.
“The vast majority of police officers across this country are tasked with shielding, protecting, and assisting elements of the protest movement that loathe them, spit on them, intentionally injure them, and wish death upon them,” the letter read.
The banner has hung over city hall since last August, after Black Lives Matter protesters met with the mayor and told him they were upset that some of their members were arrested for blocking a highway during a protest.
The mayor said in a statement Wednesday that while he will always support his officers, he would also fight against the “systemic racism in our nation.”
“The City of Somerville stands against all violence and all injustice, which is why a Black Lives Matter banner hangs at City Hall and why a banner in honor of the slain officers is hanging at Somerville Police Headquarters where it would provide the most moral support to our officers—both on my order. Both banners will remain hanging,” Curtatone’s statement read.
Somerville Police Chief David Fallon agrees with the banner staying on city hall, saying that it reminds him that people need to be inclusive.
“When I hear the hashtag or see the banner ‘Black Lives Matter,’ it just brings to my mind personally that we have to be inclusive,” Fallon said to reporters.
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