Target: Martin D. Halloran, President of the San Francisco Police Officers Association
Goal: Issue a public apology for an image published in the Police Officers Association Journal that appears to make light of the Black Lives Matter movement.
An image being criticized for its insensitive treatment of race issues in America was published in the latest issue of San Francisco’s Police Officers Association (POA) Journal. The photo features two Labrador retrievers–a black one wearing a sign that says “Black Labs Matter” and a yellow lab with a sign saying “All Labs Matter.” The image, which is captioned as “[m]aybe it’s time we all just sit back and tone down the rhetoric,” is being heavily criticized for trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement.
Black Lives Matter emerged in response to instances of police brutality and racism against black Americans. The movement and its supporters are a constant reminder of the changes that so desperately need to be made in the U.S. Racism and anti-blackness are serious, prevalent problems that social justice movements like Black Lives Matter draw attention to and strive to challenge through activism. When groups or individuals co-opt the slogan by saying “All Lives Matter” or any variation of the phrase that makes light of its original meaning, they belittle a cause that means so much to so many.
That is why the POA’s publication of this photo is so infuriating to activists and Officers for Justice, a coalition representing SFPD’s officers of color. Sergeant Yulanda Williams of Officers for Justice described the photo aptly as “insensitive” and “dehumanizing.” To take an issue as serious as black Americans being killed by police and attempt to turn it into a light-hearted image for a few laughs shows an immense lack of judgment on the POA’s part.
As of now, the president of the Police Officers Association has failed to comment on the photo, but his silence speaks volumes. In order to begin building a better relationship between San Francisco’s police and its citizens, he must show that images like this one will not be tolerated or repeated. Demand that he step forward and apologize for this offensive photo.
Dear Mr. Halloran,
I was deeply disappointed by a photo in the latest issue of the Police Officers Association Journal that seemed to mock the Black Lives Matter movement. The image of a dog wearing a sign saying “All Labs Matter” trivializes the grief, trauma, and fear that black Americans experience every single day in an anti-black society.
Black Lives Matter exists because black lives have been treated as lesser than for far too long, particularly by police officers. By turning this movement into a joke with this image, the Police Officers Association reinforces the idea that police do not value black lives. It is your responsibility as president of this association to hold the POA accountable for its actions and to apologize.
Your silence thus far is unacceptable and must end immediately in order to salvage relations between the police force and the citizens of San Francisco. Please come forward and apologize for the POA’s insensitivity and take steps to ensure that nothing like this will happen again.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Gerry Lauzon