The mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts, apologized Wednesday after an electronic sign displayed the message, "The safety of all lives matter."
The sign was likely changed sometime overnight or early Wednesday morning, prompting complaints to city hall.
"I immediately informed the chief to take that sign down," said Melrose Mayor Paul Brodeur. "We are now in the process of finding out how that happened."
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The police department controls the signage. Melrose Police Chief Michael Lyle says a traffic officer told him he was trying to type a safety message and did not mean for any malicious or political intent.
"Right now, it's only about Black people," said Melrose City Councilor Maya Jamaleddine. "It's not about everyone. Right now, what matters is to keep Black people safe and alive, they're fighting for their lives."
Melrose has been actively trying to promote racial equity in recent weeks, and this is seen as a setback.
"An incredibly insensitive thing," Brodeur said. "It is not what Melrose is about."
Both the mayor and the police chief have apologized to the community.
"It's really unfortunate," said Rev. Jaron Green, a Melrose resident who is Black. "'All lives matter' is not just what the words say. They have a deeper meaning. So to say that is a dog whistle in this moment. We're in the midst of a double pandemic. The pandemic of COVID-19, but also the pandemic of racial injustice, and the whistles are getting louder and we know exactly what they mean."