A San Francisco union representing the city’s police officers is being criticized for publishing an ad in the August issue of its monthly newspaper, showing one black and one white Labrador retrieved, each holding up signs that read “Black Labs Matter” and “All Labs Matter.”
The sign is being criticized as an insult to the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the picture appeared on the back of the San Francisco Police Officers Association Journal and was accompanied by a plea from the union asking for calm after months of animosity between the Black Lives Matter movement and police forces. The ad read “Maybe it’s time we all just sit back and tone down the rhetoric…”
Reactions to the ad were met light-heartedly on social media:
— ⚡ John T Maloney ⚡ (@jheuristic) August 5, 2016
Sgt. Yulanda Williams told the Chronicle that the ad is “inflammatory, and they still don’t get it. They still choose to inflame situations, and it’s just really insulting.” Williams is the president of Officers for Justice, an organization within the San Francisco police force representing African American and other nonwhite officers.
The hashtag #BlackLabsMatter has also yielded tweets from people posting images of their own loving pets:
— Andrew Christiansen (@archristiansen_) August 5, 2016
— Jamie Babick (@JTBabick) August 3, 2016
— Katie Grothaus (@katiegee12) August 3, 2016
The hashtag #AllLabsMatter has also garnered several responses:
— callie forrest (@cal4est) August 3, 2016
— Greg The Pandaman (@Greg_says_Murrr) July 27, 2016
The police union’s President Martin Halloran did not issue a response to the ad but instead pointed the Chronicle to a radio ad the union put out recently regarding attacks on police officers:
In light of the rising violence against police officers, we hope everyone can start to turn down the volume. 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.
The photo arrives amid debates over accusations of racism within the police department. Several racially-charged texts from three former San Francisco police officers were discovered to include slurs against various groups of people. For example, the Los Angeles Times notes that minorities were referred to as “barbarians” and “cockroaches”, Middle Easterners were referred to as “rag heads” and the term “beaners” was used to describe individuals of Hispanic descent.
However, efforts made by police officers to start a constructive dialogue with members of the Black Lives Matter movement have also been futile in Northern California.
Last month, the Oakland Police Department extended an invitation to followers of the Black Lives Matter movement to participate in a barbecue to start a constructive dialogue between the two groups. However, the police were met with flat-out rejection by a spokesperson who referred to law enforcement as “pigs.” Karissa Lewis, a self-described “radical black farmer from East Oakland,” said “I eat pigs, I don’t eat with them.”
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz