To kick off Black History Month, the Boston Teachers Union took part in a week of activities and events promoting Black Lives Matter at School week.
The decision, however, drew swift condemnation from the head of the Boston Police Patrolman’s Association, urging teachers to “reconsider” participating in the “anti-police” initiative, Boston.com reported.
In a letter addressed to teachers union president Jessica Tang, patrolmen’s association president Michael Leary smeared Black Lives Matter as an “anti-police organization whose activities have the effect of making my members less safe.”
“Policing has always been a dangerous profession, [but] groups like Black Lives Matter, by inaccurately demonizing police as racists who kill innocent people, have made policing more dangerous than ever before,” Leary states in a letter dated Feb. 3.
He argued that rather than examining the specifics of officer-involved shootings, BLM “oversimplifies and generalizes, leading its followers to distrust police and, in more and more cases, to do them harm.”
Last week’s activities were part of the National Black Lives Matter Week of Action, which ran from Feb. 3 through Feb. 7, according to CBS Boston. The itinerary of events included wearing a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt or pin to school, having thoughtful discussions about the social justice movement and celebrating Black teachers.
The Boston Globe reported that Tang said some 40 cities around the nation participated in the week of events, which in Boston centered on four main points: hiring more Black teachers, ending “zero-tolerance” discipline, implementing restorative justice policies and lastly, providing funding for more counselors — not cops.
“It was never actually even about police,” Tang told the outlet. “This is about kicking off Black History Month in a way that’s affirming to not just our black students, but also to our black families and our black educators.”
The teachers union president said she “certainly disagreed” with Leary’s response to the matter and offered to sit down with local police to have a discussion.
The Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers, or MAMLEO, also reacted to criticism from the police union and made it clear that not everyone in the department shared Leary’s point of view. In a joint statement with the Boston NAACP branch, the group explained “police officers are not a monolithic group” and that some of them align themselves with what BLM stands for.
“We do not believe B-L-M is synonymous with ‘anti-police,’ it continued. “In fact, we believe BLM is a reflection of the historical mistreatment of Black and brown people in this country, not only by law enforcement but also by a culture that has quietly undermined the value of the lives of Black and brown people.”
Despite the tongue-lashing from Leary, the Boston teachers carried on with their week of events as planned.
Watch more in the video below.