The controversy over a "Black Lives Matter" banner hanging outside Somerville's City Hall shows how easy it is to get distracted in the struggle against racism in America.

The banner has been there for a year without controversy, but on Thursday a rally comprised primarily of white people gathered in the predominantly white city outside of Boston to demand it be taken down. The Somerville Police Association asserted that the banner is exclusionary and disrespectful in light of the assassinations of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

Mayor Joe Curtatone said Thursday, "That sign is not coming down," which is the proper call. The "Black Lives Matter" slogan arose in response to the killings of unarmed black men by police officers. That cause has not changed because of the murders of police officers, actions that saddened all races. "The Cops Lives Matter" signs seen Thursday were appropriate, but the "All Lives Matter" slogans obscure the real issue. Of course all lives matter, but whites aren't being gunned down in the street to the extent African-Americans are.

There were no real villains at Thursday's rally, only people unnecessarily divided by banners, signs and slogans. Everyone must move beyond catchphrases and unite in the common cause of confronting the racism poisoning America.



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