Disgusted by what they called a “despicable act of vandalism,” a California city took immediate action after a “racist” banner was found in a local park.
Officials in Union City — a northern California town not far from Oakland — were “disgusted” by a “despicable act of vandalism” after a banner was found by a city employee. The employee quickly took down the banner, which was posted on city property, and contacted the police.
The homemade banner, which many have deemed offensive and hateful, was emblazoned with the words “White Lives Matter.” It was found hanging on city property in a public area across the street from the popular Union Landing shopping center at the busy intersection of Dyer and Smith Streets.
According to law enforcement, no crime had been committed, but Union City Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci said the crux of the issue was that whoever erected the banner did so without a proper permit to place it on city-owned property. But, it was the words on the sign that touched a nerve for some in a city where people of color dwarf the 25% white population, KTVU reported.
“That’s not cool. That’s not really appreciated. I don’t understand it,” said Jalonnie Price of Union City, and the mayor seemed to agree. After hearing about the banner during a virtual retreat with the Human Relations Commission, where one of the topics was concern over national divisions becoming local, Dutra-Vernaci said she was angered because the banner doesn’t reflect the community’s inclusiveness.
Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci said she “thought about this incident in relation to what’s going on in the country” and claimed that, to her, the banner was “an extension of that.” In addition, the city said it was “disgusted” by the “racist” sign in a statement, and city leaders vowed to “remain on heightened alert to make sure racist incidences like this do not happen again in our community,” The Blaze reported.
Of course, there are some who are confused by how the phrase “White Lives Matter” can be deemed offensive, but “Black Lives Matter” is not. “I see it’s another person’s opinion, you know, that’s all. That’s their opinion and a lot of things are being said to stir people up,” Union City resident Mary Samarron explained. According to the Anti-Defamation League, however, “White Lives Matter” is more than an “opinion” — it’s a racist dog whistle:
“‘White Lives Matter’ is a white supremacist phrase that originated in early 2015 as a racist response to the Black Lives Matter movement, which arose to protest against police brutality against African-Americans and garnered considerable publicity in 2014 for protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting death of Michael Brown at the hands of a Ferguson police officer,” the ADL explained.
“Since 2015, white supremacists in several states, especially members of the Texas-based white supremacist group Aryan Renaissance Society, have promoted the slogan ‘White Lives Matter’ with flyers and protests, forming a loose campaign to popularize the phrase,” the ALD furthered. “By 2016 other white supremacist groups, including Ku Klux Klan groups, were also using the slogan, and it soon became a staple among white supremacist mantras, continuing even after the original campaigners ceased their activities.”
Freddye Davis, the president of the Hayward South Alameda County NAACP chapter, agreed, telling KPIX that whoever erected the “White Lives Matter” banner does not understand the phrase “Black Lives Matter.” Davis explained, “It does not mean that other lives [don’t] matter because they do. But, if you look at history, the Black lives are the ones that have gotten the worse end of the stick.”
Indeed, “Black Lives Matter” murals have been painted in cities nationwide, following the tragic death of George Floyd in the summer of 2020. Unsurprisingly, some have found those displays offensive, even going as far as to try to paint over them by both black and white people. Perhaps Union City neighbor Jalonnie Price said it best: “In my opinion, all lives matter. And, we should all just be one, you feel me?”