From SF Gate: The union representing San Francisco police officers published a photograph of two dogs in its monthly newspaper that critics say belittles the Black Lives Matter movement and raises questions about the police force’s commitment to repairing its relationship with communities of color.
The picture, which appeared on the back page of the August issue of the San Francisco Police Officers Association Journal, shows a pair of Labrador retrievers, one black and one white. The black dog has a sign around its neck reading, “Black Labs Matter,” while the white dog sports a sign reading, “All Labs Matter.”
The photo, submitted by a union supporter, is accompanied by a plea from the union: “Maybe it’s time we all just sit back and tone down the rhetoric,” a reference to many months of heated national debate over police shootings and, recently, the targeted slayings of police officers.
The photo weighs in on a controversy that has flared on social media and has animated political debates. Some people have countered the phrase “Black lives matter” by saying, “All lives matter,” and they in turn have been accused of objecting to a simple request that black people be treated fairly.
People in the Black Lives Matter movement have sought to explain that the focus on black lives is appropriate because black people are disproportionately profiled and killed by police.
The dog photo “once again shows a severe lack of understanding,” said Sgt. Yulanda Williams, president of Officers for Justice, an organization within the San Francisco police force representing African American and other nonwhite officers. “It’s so inflammatory, and they still don’t get it. They still choose to inflame situations, and it’s just really insulting.”
The Police Department and acting Chief Toney Chaplin declined to comment.
Union officials did not immediately comment to a request for comment on the journal photo, but Union President Martin Halloran pointed to a radio ad put out by the union about the recent attacks on police officers.
“In light of the rising violence against police officers, we hope everyone can start to turn down the volume,” Halloran says in the ad. “Anti-police rhetoric has been cited as a contributing factor to the violence against police officers. I think we can all do better and the police will do our part. We will continue with our best efforts to build bridges of communication and understanding between us and the community that we serve.”
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