The already tone-deaf San Francisco Police Officers' Association, a union that's repeatedly railed against any perception of anti-police sentiment, has caused some new controversy with a purportedly playful image that claims to look past racial divisions. This month's edition of the union's journal, a publication available in print and online mostly dedicated to friendly shop talk and inside-baseball updates, features the above ad referencing the Black Lives Matter movement on its back cover.
The ad, as ABC7 notes, comes from Esther Woods, a woman who identifies herself as a union supporter. Regardless of where her support lies, the image plainly reduces the differing racial and historical experiences of Americans to the color variance of two labrador retrievers while casually dismissing the safety concerns of African Americans as "rhetoric."
“I think that it’s clear that the POA continues to be tone-deaf around the real issues surrounding police accountability,” Oakland activist Alicia Garza, cited as a co-founding member of the Black Lives Matter movement, tells the Chronicle. “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.”
Last month, on a day dedicated to the memory of a black man killed by police officers in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood, the SFPOA and others funded a $15,000 full-page advertisement in the Chronicle. Though it didn't explicitly criticize the day of remembrance for that man, Mario Woods, it clearly acted to divert attention from the Black Lives Matter movement and calls for justice and police accountability, instead pointing exclusively to the service of men and women in uniform. Critics compared the advertisement to a "Blue Lives Matter" response to a Black Lives Matter chant. “July 22, 2016, is a day to acknowledge San Francisco’s local heroes," the ad read. "It is a day to honor all of the brave men and women — as well as all public safety workers in California and this nation — who have made the ultimate sacrifice. On this day, pause and reflect on those selfless, dedicated individuals. It is they who are deserving of special civic remembrance.” SFPD is currently undergoing a Department of Justice investigation in the wake of Woods' death, though that will not directly investigate the circumstances of his shooting, instead focusing on police training and policy.