Police Unions Plan to Protest Somerville’s ‘Black Lives Matter’ Banner

Cops say it's 'exclusionary' and 'disrespectful.'

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

Police unions from across Massachusetts are planning to protest the “Black Lives Matter” banner hanging at Somerville City Hall, after Mayor Joe Curtatone rebuffed a request from police to remove it.

“The rally will be peaceful and respectful, but will demonstrate the solidarity of police organizations in Massachusetts to the exclusionary message that the banner sends,” Michael McGrath, president of the Somerville Police Employee’s Association, told the Herald. “In the face of the continuing assassination of police officers across the country as an apparent offshoot of the BLM movement, it is irresponsible for the city to declare support for the lives of one sector, to the exclusion of others, including police officers.”

The union wrote a letter to Curtatone last week demanding the banner removed from City Hall and replaced with one that says “All Lives Matter.”

“It is as inconceivable to us as it is demoralizing that our City would propagate its support for this movement while standing silent over the seemingly daily protest assassinations of innocent police officers around the country,” the letter read.

Curtatone refused, and ordered a banner honoring slain members of law enforcement to be displayed alongside the “Black Lives Matter” sign.

“My unwavering support for our police officers does not and cannot preempt our commitment to addressing systemic racism in our nation,” he told Boston.com. “Both banners will remain hanging. I’ve made very clear to our officers that we should be thankful for—and reinforce—what we have here in Somerville: a safer community thanks to the highest quality policing by a force dedicated to community policing, de-escalation, proper use of force, and antibias awareness”

The Somerville union, joined by officers from the Massachusetts Municipal Police Coalition, which represents a number of Greater Boston area police unions, is expected to demonstrate outside City Hall Thursday.

“While we support the core goal of the BLM movement—equal treatment under the law—we find the banner’s message disrespectful of police officers and potentially encouraging to individuals who pervert that message through the indiscriminate murder of our counterparts from around the country,” McGrath said.