The union representing San Francisco police officers is under fire for a photo that appeared in its monthly newsletter that seems to belittle the Black Lives Matter movement, SFGate reports.
The photograph shows two dogs sitting side by side, one appears to be a yellow lab and the other with black fur. The black lab is wearing a sign that reads, "Black labs matter" while the light-colored one is wearing a sign that reads, "All labs matter."
“I think that it’s clear that the POA continues to be tone-deaf around the real issues surrounding police accountability,” Alicia Garza, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. “They characterize as rhetoric what is actually a really concerning problem of a lack of accountability, a lack of transparency and a lack of professionalism in that department.”
The image appeared in the August copy of the San Francisco Police Officers Association Journal. It's accompanied by the words, "Maybe it’s time we all just sit back and tone down the rhetoric." But it's had the opposite effect.
“It’s so inflammatory, and they still don’t get it," Yulanda Williams, president of Officers for Justice, an SFPD organization representing officers of color. "They still choose to inflame situations, and it’s just really insulting.”
The police union's president, Martin Halloran, did not comment on the story but pointed SFGate to a radio ad recently released by the organization.
"In light of the rising violence against police officers, we hope everyone can start to turn down the volume,” the ad said, according to SFGate. “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 Bay Area publication points out that the photograph ran in the midst of a review of the police department by the Department of Justice after San Francisco police shot and killed Mario Woods, a stabbing suspect that was shot more than 20 times by officers.
The department is also facing scrutiny and allegations of racism after two separate sets of racist text messages sent between officers were revealed.
“The POA is as good at sticking their foot in their mouth as Donald Trump,” Williams told SFGate. “So much for reform, that’s what that looks like. Reforms aren’t going to happen until you get them to concede that they’ve been doing things wrong, and this does not look like a concession or even an understanding or a desire to understand.”