Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone on Wednesday held firm on his decision to keep a Black Lives Matter Banner on City Hall, saying it is not in competition with an “In Honor and Remembrance” banner hanging from the police station honoring fallen police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
“Those banners to do not represent competing thoughts,” Curtatone said in a statement.”Standing up for our minority populations and supporting the police officers who protect and serve our communities should go hand-in-hand.”
Curtatone issued the statement one day before a statewide organization of local police unions is set to join the Somerville Police union at a rally at City Hall to protest the Black Lives Matter banner.
The Somerville Police Employee’s Association last week sent a letter to Curtatone, asking the mayor to remove the banner. Curtatone said he would not. The rally is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
“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,” the Somerville Police Employee’s Association said in a news release.
The Black Lives Matter banner has hung on City Hall since last August. But, in light of the killings of police officers across the country, the banner now carries a message that is “disrespectful to police officers,” the release stated.
But Curtatone said he has heard from members of the public, “thanking me for continuing to hang that banner along with the one at our police headquarters.”
He also has heard from police officers who said the union’s request to take down the banner “does not represent their views.”
“What our residents and our officers made clear is they reject the notion that there are two sides to pick here,” Curtatone said. “We can stand together for the principle that every person who leaves their home and every officer who heads out to do their job should return safely. That is where most people stand. That is why both banners will remain.”Olivia Quintana can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @oliviasquintana.