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5 California Police Officers Sue City Over Black LIves Matter Mural That Contains Anti-Cop Images

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Five California police officers filed a lawsuit against a California city, Palo Alto, over a Black Lives Matter mural that they said contained anti-police images. The cops argued that the mural approved by the city includes images that constitute harassment against law enforcement and that the mural violated the state Fair Employment and Housing Act but the city “ratified the conduct and insisted that it remain and persist.”

“Law enforcement officers, including the plaintiffs, were forced to physically pass and confront the mural and its offensive, discriminatory, and harassing iconography every time they entered the Palo Alto Police Department,” said the lawsuit.

“Defendants created and allowed to exist the aforementioned discriminatory and harassing work environment,” said the suit. “Not only did the defendants allow the harassing and discriminatory iconography to exist in the workplace, but they also sanctioned, approved, encouraged, and paid for it.”

The suit was filed June 4 in Santa Clara County Superior Court and lists as plaintiffs police officers Eric Figueroa, Michael Foley, Christopher Moore, Robert Parham, and Julie Tannock.

From The Palo Alto Daily Post:

In the heat of national protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, City Council authorized the painting of the mural at a June 15, 2020 meeting. In the next two weeks, a group of activists painted the 245-foot long mural in the street.

The mural featured several images in each letter of the phrase Black Lives Matter.

The suit points out that in the letter “E” is an image of Joanne Chesimard, better known as Assata Shakur, who was convicted in 1977 for the murder of New Jersey State Trooper Wermer Foerster, a white police officer. Shakur was arrested and convicted of Foerster’s murder. She later escaped from prison and fled to Cuba, where she is believed to still be living.

The suit also points out that the mural included the logo of the New Black Panthers, which is identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group that has encouraged violence against whites, Jews and police officers.

In July 2020, the National Police Association demanded the mural’s removal calling it an “atrocity” to glorify a fugitive convicted cop killer in front of City Hall.

“For law enforcement required to enter the building, is there any description other than a hostile work environment?” the association said in a statement.

In July 2020, city spokeswoman Meghan Horrigan-Taylor said “in no way does the mural take away from the value we have in our police officers who serve our community every day.”