Back the Blue and Black Lives Matter protesters both rallied in front of Danvers Town Hall Thursday evening, slamming the town managers decision last week to force local firefighters to remove thin blue line flags from firetrucks.
I was quite upset when I found out our town did that to our law enforcement, when we have one of the best law enforcement departments in the entire state, said Rick Bettencourt, who organized the Back the Blue rally in response to the decision.
Last Tuesday, town manager Steve Bartha ordered the fire department to take down thin blue line flags that had hung on trucks for the past two years.
The symbol has also become a form of political speech in todays social landscape that has the power to make marginalized members of our community feel unwelcome and unsafe, Bartha said in a statement last week.
Bettencourt rounded up hundreds of supporters to rally in front of town hall, but he soon got word that a local Black Lives Matter standout was scheduled for the same night, in the same location.
Not everyone got the memo. Lynn teacher Davia Moore showed up to what she thought was simply a BLM standout and was overwhelmed by the number of vocal police supporters waving enormous thin blue line flags and blasting music from speakers set in the beds of pickup trucks.
It feels aggressive. It feels like people are crowding our space, she said through tears.
The lives of police officers mean quite a bit to me, so the feeling that I can either care about Black lives or the lives of people who serve us, feels like a really hard choice for me to make and one that I dont think I should have to make in my community, she said.
Bettencourt said the counterprotesters reached out to him about the scheduling conflict.
We said, Youre more than welcome to do it. I dont think its a good idea to have it the same night, he told the Herald.
He said he believes removing the flag from firetrucks is an instance of misconstruing its message.
That thin blue lines a beacon of hope. Its a safety blanket, he said.
Danvers resident Emeline Walker brought a sign that said: Blue Lives dont exist.
A lot of times, rallies like this theyre saying theyre the same thing: being Black, and being a cop. And theyre not, she said.
Originally posted here:
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