Palo Alto, CA

Police officers sue California city over 'discriminating' Black Lives Matter mural

Josue Torres
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Five policemen have filed a lawsuit against the Silicon Valley city of Palo Alto, alleging that it permitted the production of a Black Lives Matter mural containing anti-police imagery, which they claim constitutes harassment and discrimination against law enforcement.

Following the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin in June of last year, the mural was painted on the roadway across from City Hall. 

It was supposed to stay on the street for up to a year, but it was gone by November.

According to the complaint filed last month in Santa Clara County Superior Court, one of the pictures was of Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, who was convicted in the 1973 death of a New Jersey state policeman. 

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The mural that sparked the lawsuit.AP

She subsequently escaped from jail and went to Cuba. She has yet to be found.

According to the complaint, the painting also included the emblem of the New Black Panthers, a hate organization recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as encouraging violence against white and Jewish individuals as well as law officers.

According to the complaint, law enforcement personnel, including plaintiffs, were compelled to physically pass and face the Mural and its offensive, discriminatory, and harassing imagery every time they entered the Palo Alto Police Department.

The cops filed a complaint with authorities, alleging that the artwork violated the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. According to the complaint, the city ratified the behavior and demanded that it stay and persist.

The National Police Association requested the mural’s removal in July 2020, calling it an atrocity to honor a fugitive convicted police murderer in front of City Hall.

“If it is not possible to imagine putting a 17' tall mural of nurse killer Richard Speck in front of a hospital or putting a 17' tall mural of Dan White, who assassinated San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, in front of a mayor’s house, the atrocity of the celebration of a fugitive convicted cop killer in front of Palo Alto’s City Hall is equally reprehensible,” said the petition from The National Police Association.

According to City Attorney Molly Stump, the city has not been served with the lawsuit.

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Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona.Unsplash

Some Palo Alto residents agree with the lawsuit, arguing that police can not be dismissed and disrespected in such a blatant way:

“You simply can’t say all officers are bad, there’s a big amount of them who truly love what they do and are constantly working to improver their communities, classifying them as something bad is utterly disrespectful,” said Matt B.

On the other hand, others say good police officers should not feel offended about something like a mural since they wouldn’t be the problem:

“All of those officers who feel offended or complain about something as beautiful and simple as a mural, are the problem of the institution. If you know your work is good and you’re not doing anything wrong you simply wouldn’t care about what any mural says since it’s not aimed at you,” Lisa Adams explained.

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