An Indiana police department unveiled its latest police vehicle design, revealing the county’s newest decals. However, once citizens saw the decals, they demanded that law enforcement remove the “controversial” message.
For most citizens, lowering crime, fixing roads, and bringing in new businesses are the top priorities for putting their tax dollars to good use. Of course, there are some who hold certain social justice issues much higher than the economic growth and safety of their communities. For a certain group in Madison County, this seems to be exactly the case.
In 2016, the Frankton Police Department changed up the facade of the patrol vehicles to promote a more modern and unifying message. However, instead of bringing communities together, the department was quickly inundated with complaints.
The city of Frankfort has announced that it will force the police department to remove decals with the phrase “All Lives Matter” from patrol vehicles because some citizens claimed that the message has racial undertones. Despite attempting to convey the belief that all races, religions, and backgrounds of people have equal value, some community members have deemed it exclusionary.
The controversy began when Frankton resident Molly Hobbs created a petition to have the decals removed, according to WRTV. She claims that the message undermines the Black Lives Matter movement and seeks to oppress and intimidate black people.
“As I educated myself on the black lives matter movement more and kind of spoke with other people about it, I kind of realized that that’s not OK and it needs to come off,” Hobbs said. “I think it’s a controversial issue and I don’t think it’s one the police should’ve taken a stand on. I created the petition to kind of show people that it’s not just me. That it is a problem.”
Once Hobbs’ petition gained steam, the city looked to Madison County NAACP President James Burgess for a comment. However, Burgess didn’t take a definitive stance on the issue. Instead, he explained that people should first ask the department what it hoped to accomplish by displaying the message on the sides of patrol vehicles, WTHR reports.
“I could never say something’s wrong with that,” said Burgess, who has served as chapter president for 30 years. “I could say, ‘Hmm, what’s the intent of that?’ because ‘Black Lives Matter’ is the issue that is being left out.”
Local NAACP board member Tyjuan Garret added to Burgess’ sentiment, reminding the community that intention is the issue. Garret explained that he would like to reach out to the department to figure out what message they are trying to purvey.
“I mean I would love to sit down with the Frankton Police Department and have a conversation with them and say exactly what are your motives?” Garrett said. “Tell me how you are adding to the conversation of All Lives Matter. How are you expanding out to reflect all lives matter?”
Molly Hobbs is standing firm.
Contrarily, Hobbs doubled down on her stance, arguing that the term “All Lives Matter” has an exclusionary connotation. She insisted that the city’s decision to remove the message is a step in the right direction.
“I want the community to always be inclusive and accepting of anybody, and I think that doing this will help the community grow,” Hobbs said.
Frankton Town Marshal Dave Huffman stated that, while the decals aren’t meant to criticize the BLM movement, the slogan has been misinterpreted to have a political intent. He explained that the message was chosen in order to protect all citizens “regardless of income, economic status, race, nationality, age, or any other factor.”
Still, Huffman admitted that after nearly 100 people signed the petition, the city was forced to address the issue. After some time, it was concluded that the decals must be removed from the vehicles in an effort to preserve harmony in the community.
The city will remove the decals and likely replace them with new ones, which will cost the taxpayers even more money. If only the community would’ve looked at the department’s actions instead of assigning an alternative meaning to trivial stickers, they would’ve saved their money and some grief in the process.