Boston's got a bad reputation when it comes to race. And unfortunately, much of it's deserved. Of course, there are people who are trying to fight and make a positive difference despite the segregation that's left the predominantly black neighborhoods behind in schooling and socializing. Which is why the Boston Teacher's Union planned a week-long series of events in coordination with Black Lives Matter, to help educate students on inclusion and restorative justice. After all, February is Black History Month. So that all sounds good, right?
The Boston Police Patrolmen's Association disagreed, and sent a letter to BTU President Jessica Tang condoning the events. In the letter, BPPA President Michael Leary refers to Black Lives Matter an "anti-police organization" who has endangered the lives of Boston police officers. This is demonstrably untrue. But BPPA refuses to let the facts get in the way of their feelings. The letter continues on about the "irrational hatred" of BLM, accusing them of "inaccurately demonizing police as racists who kill innocent people" before passive-aggressively warning about the potential dangers of not cooperating with Boston Police, like some kind of mob protection racket.
BPPA is also upset about an education initiative to provide more funding for guidance counselors, instead of just shoving more police officers into schools to solve behavioral problems by threat of force. "Imagine if the BPPA encouraged the public to 'Fund Police Not Teachers' — you would be insulted too," the letter says, which is particularly ironic, given that the city just approved a budget that adds 2,200 police officers and a new unsolved homicide department while failing to proportionally increase the education budget in some districts.
In the BPPA's defense, their letter does point out that the current political climate has made it more difficult to recruit new officers, and this is technically true. But that assertion conveniently ignores the context of things like why do we need more cops, who are these recruitment efforts towards, what are the actual consequences of this, and what other solutions might be available to address the issues that are supposedly left behind by these vacancies.
Thomas Nolan, a retired Boston police officer who now teaches criminology and criminal justice at Emmanuel College in Boston, said, "This letter is garbage. It’s an embarrassment to Boston police officers." And I'm inclined to agree with him. The 500-member Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers and the local NAACP chapter also expressed their concerns about the letter.
As of Wednesday evening, the Boston Teachers' Union is firmly standing by their commitment to the Black Lives Matter events, and the Mayor and Police Union rep have both offered some wishy-washy platitudes that vaguely allude to unity and understanding.
In letter, Boston police union blasts Black Lives Matter, drawing sharp rebuke [Danny McDonald / The Boston Globe]