Our understanding is that there will be both a police rally as well as counter protests attended by Somerville residents and others. We respect all three group’s right to protest.
I want also to reiterate that I am the mayor of a city with a Black Lives Banner hanging from City Hall and an “In Honor and Remembrance” banner hanging at its police headquarters to honor the fallen officers in Dallas and also Baton Rouge.
Those banners do not represent two competing thoughts. Standing up for our minority populations and supporting the police officers who protect and serve our communities should go hand-in-hand. We should have a culture of respect that flows in both directions. In fact, that respect is the foundation on which our civil society rests.
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. It is a violence that tests us in every community, demanding we either come together or break apart.
This week a Somerville police officer penned a letter insisting we take down the Black Lives Matter banner, essentially asking our city to pick a side. Afterward I received an overwhelming response from people in my city thanking me for continuing to hang that banner along with the one at our police headquarters. We’ve also heard from our own police that the letter sent by that one officer does not represent their views on this matter and that they were not consulted before it was penned.
What our residents and our officers made clear is they reject the notion that there are sides to pick here. 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.
He also ad-libbed with this:
– The amount of trust the men and women of the Somerville Police Department have built because of the work we’ve done is inspirational. What you have here is a disagreement between the head of the Patrolmen’s union, and his disagreement of how we institute progressive policing policies in the city. We’re trying to engage every member of the community. We believe everyone has a role to play in advancing public health and public safety. We shouldn’t be policing the way we did 30 years ago. We believe in training our officers to deal with society today, and we believe we’re leading the way. So if the head of the Patrolmen’s union wants to step up and be part of the dialogue, the door is open.
Please note that during the Pro Law Enforcement Rally at City Hall, Somerville Police Department representation is estimated at approximately 4 officers, and 3 union leaders. Other participants appear to be from elsewhere, not SPD.