Somerville Ward 5 Alderman Mark Niedergang’s Comments Post Rallies

Three Black Lives Matter banner protests last night were all peaceful and respectful. Thanks be to God! I was worried but so glad there was no reason to be. I am glad that Mayor Curtatone is standing firm on keeping the banner up. The new banner sends a great message too. It was an interesting evening of three protests. The BLM gathering in Union Square had a couple hundred people when I left at 5:45. The speeches I heard were respectful of the police which I thought was important. At City Hall, I arrived just as the police rally was breaking up, 20 minutes after it started. Very few Somerville police there, estimates were 4 or 5. The counter demonstration was mostly young people of color from Teen Empowerment, the City’s fantastic youth program. They confronted the police demonstrators and their civilian supporters (some from Somerville, many not) with signs and dialogue. My wife Marya and I were there for 1 1/2 hours after the rally broke up with about 100 other people participating in random conversations with folks who disagreed with us that the banner should stay up and with folks who agreed. There were many, many such conversations going on — a very good thing! People were trying to talk and dialogue but there didn’t seem to be a lot of common ground. I’m proud that the young people and all BLM supporters have been respectul and supportive of our great SPD police department throughout this controversy. It’s ironic that our police have excellent relationships with all sectors of the community with no major incidents (although I know many young people of color do not feel they are treated well by police)….yet this controversy has exploded here. Some supporters of the police I talked to were pretty angry about a sign that they don’t agree with being posted on City Hall, “the peoples’ house” as several said. The linking of a few lunatics who’ve glommed onto the BLM movement to the whole of BLM and disparaging BLM for those crazies reminds me of the ’60s when every movement for peace and social change attracted crazies, who were then used to deligitimize that movement. It’s also sad to me that so many interpret BLM as diminishing the police, veterans, white people, etc. I just don’t get it despite having listened to many of them.

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