- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 20, 2015

City officials in Somerville, Massachusetts, displayed a banner proudly declaring “#BlackLivesManner” in front of City Hall on Wednesday morning.

Mayor Joe Curtatone said he worked with local members of the grass-roots movement to create the banner and show support for their message against police brutality, The Boston Globe reported.

“We see this as an important opportunity for an important national conversation” about race, Mr. Curtatone said. He said the move was “a very clear statement we are making to the community that we recognize that structural racism exists in our society; it exists in our public and private institutions,” The Globe reported.

The 4-foot-by-12-foot black banner will stay up “as long as it has to,” the mayor said.

“I have a responsibility as the chief executive of public institutions in this city and our municipality to lead that,” he said. “If any one group feels that our public institutions are not treating them fairly, or our policies drive a certain structural racial overtone, I have a responsibility to lead that change.”

Mr. Curtatone said the next step is intensive diversity training for Somerville police officers and other front line staff who engage with constituents regularly. Black Lives Matter’s local Cambridge chapter is developing plans for further educational efforts, The Globe reported.

“The words are empty if we just hang a sign,” the mayor said. “We have one goal in our community: to make it an exceptional place to live, to work, to play — for everyone.”

Mr. Curtatone said the partnership is not meant to criticize the city’s police department.

“They’re fantastic,” he said, adding that the police chief supports the cause, The Globe reported. “This is not just about law enforcement. The goal is to address racism in all of our other public and private institutions. We are in this as a whole city, not with just a focus on police.”

Stephanie Guirand, lead organizer of Black Lives Matter Cambridge, said the group was honored by the partnership.

“He said all the things we wanted to hear about being on the right side of history,” she told The Globe.

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