By Michele McPhee
Police officers from all over the Commonwealth are planning to protest a controversial “Black Lives Matter Banner” banner Thursday afternoon outside Somerville City Hall where the sign has hung since last August.
The pro-law enforcement rally will be hosted by the Mass Municipal Police Coalition, said Michael McGrath, President of the Somerville Police Employees Association in a press release, which points out that his union members support “the core goal of the BLM movement – equal treatment under law,” but feel that the banner is “disrespectful of police officers.”
“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,” he wrote. “In the face of the continuing assassination of innocent police officers across the country as an apparent offshoot of the BLM movement, it is irresponsible of the City to publicly declare support for the lies of one sector of our population to the exclusion of others, including police officers.
The move comes days after Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone announced that the banner – despite an early request from McGrath to replace it with an All Lives Matter message – would stay. The city, he said in a statement, stands opposed to what he called “systemic racism.”
“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.
The rally is slated to begin at 5:30 pm Thursday and last for roughly two hours, McGrath said. The union is expecting police officers from all over the state to attend, along with civilians.
By Michele McPhee