LETTER: Town Councilor Condemns “Disturbing” Sticker Found at Victory Field

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The following statement was first read by Town Councilor Tony Palomba at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting as part of a request for information about what steps the Town administration will take in response to an offensive sticker found at Victory Field recently. Town Council President Mark Sideris and School Committee Chair John Portz also spoke out against the sticker at meetings this week.

Palomba’s statement reads:

It is disappointing and disturbing that a sticker of a Native American carrying a tomahawk and a Blue Lives Matter flag was posted on Town property in Watertown. We should be clear that this act of racist hate speech is not a one-off by a resident or visitor. Given the sophistication of the sticker — it required time, energy, and money to produce it — I would not be surprised to see more of these stickers around Town. 

I stand with those who believe there are many good people who reside in Watertown. But we must also accept the reality that there are among us individuals and groups of individuals who are determined to perpetuate stereotypes and foster division, and who espouse white supremacy and racism. When I first wrote this I was going to say that these individuals do not understand the pain and hurt they cause. However, I think I was wrong. I do believe that they understand, and more to the point, that is exactly what they want to do — cause pain and hurt.

I believe it is the responsibility of elected officials and the leadership in Town government, as well as community leaders, houses of worship, civic organizations and others, to condemn racists acts when they occur. But we must also continue to take steps, as to expand these efforts, to erase racism wherever it is found — in government, in institutions, and particularly in our community. 

Therefore I request information on what steps the administration will take in light of the display of the deeply offensive sticker.

30 thoughts on “LETTER: Town Councilor Condemns “Disturbing” Sticker Found at Victory Field

  1. Thank you Councilor Palomba for addressing this racist act. The sticker debases those being othered, and it debases the town in general. We are better than this.

  2. Some of us don’t know what the sticker actually looked like or implied.

    All I read was this, and I haven’t the slightest idea what it means:

    “A Native American carrying a tomahawk and a Blue Lives Matter flag.”

    May I ask what is going on?

    I am so tired of everything being about race in Watertown, if that is what this letter is about.

    • Something about this doesn’t quite pass the sniff test. All we have to go by is a description of the sticker where the context of it doesn’t make any sense. Where’s the tie in or connection of an Native American, with a tomahawk and carrying a ‘Blue Lives Matter’ that makes it racist? I could understand the concern if it was a image of George Floyd with the same flag, but not this.

      It’s getting to be all to common for people to misinterpret things and be outraged about stuff like a rope swing and think it’s a noose, or utility markings spray painted on the sidewalk and confuse it for a swastika. Not only is it ignorant, but it detracts from genuine racist images.

      I’m not taking one side or the other on this, but until I see a picture of what has so many people up in arms, I’m just going to assume this is another case of mistaken or confused racism.

      Perhaps Charlie can find out more and provide a pic here?

  3. Looks like there is a need for some educating about the inappropriateness of “Blue lives matter” and a character of a native American with a hatchet.
    Any representatives what to take this opportunity?

  4. Free speech trumps all accusations of hate, bigotry or racism. It is really very simple. Stay focused on founding principals. We do not need continued government or community overreach at every ripple.

  5. Thank you so much for your cogent and incisive statement, Councilor Palomba. The dismissive comments here indicate just how important it is to call out bigotry wherever it appears.

  6. I have some questions. I pose them in all seriousness.
    What is “racist” or “inappropriate” about “Blue Lives Matter”? That means police, right? Police lives matter? They do, don’t they? Please explain why they don’t, if they don’t. And aren’t many police officers people of color?
    “[A] Native American carrying a tomahawk” is a stereotype, which indeed can be racist, but context matters. Is “Last of the Mohicans” racist, particularly as it stars a white Englishman, Daniel Day-Lewis? Seemingly not in 1992 when it was released; seemingly not by the moviegoers who shelled out over $75 million to see it during its run; seemingly not by the cable channel (not sure which one) which was still running it last month (I watched, insensitively perhaps, but with the photogenic Madeleine Stowe in my defense).
    How does a single sticker damn an entire town? “There are among us individuals and groups of individuals who are determined to perpetuate stereotypes and foster division, and who espouse white supremacy and racism”. I don’t know if that sounds more like Sen. Joe McCarthy or a zombie movie; if only it were half as credible as either one. There are indeed among us people who disagree with us on this or that matter. They ought not to be slandered as racists or white supremacists without better evidence than a sticker.
    Last, like voting booths, Victory Field requires no ID to use. Even if the “individual and group of individuals” did indeed harbor white supremacist beliefs (decidedly unproven), what evidence says he/she/they live in Watertown? I have my eye on Cambridge (20 minutes from Harvard Sq to Common St. on the 71 bus, then a five minute walk), but I have as much evidence of that as presented here.

  7. The Blue Lives Matter flag is by no means REMOTELY RACIST.
    An American Indian carrying a tomahawk could be construed as such depending on the context.

    But given the source of the repor, I suspect another false flag.

    • John, the Blue Lives Matter Flag is seen, especially by people of color, as a repudiation of Black Lives Matter, signaling support for the police no matter what they do. It is often displayed in conjunction with other messages that are racist. It has then, become associated with racism.

      There is a big problem to be solved with racism in this country in general and with the culture of policing. Making disingenuous arguments and sounding dog whistles just perpetuates the problem. Not all police are bad, but one of the problems is that police and their supporters generally won’t repudiate the ones who do awful things.

      The source of the report is a fine man, who is thoughtful and cares for his fellow humans. I doubt that many of the commenters here can match his character and commitment to this town. Disparaging him only reflects on you.

      • The way “some people or any group of people” perceive something is not the basis for determining whether something is actually racist. That barely qualifies as a subjective standard.

        Sorry but there is right to NOT BE OFFENDED.

        Frankly, there are plenty that believe the Black Lives Matter is a racist slogan and violent subversive organization.

        People have a right to Freedom of Expression.

        • There is a right to freedom of expression. There is also a right to be disgusted by someone’s expression of opinion and I find this reply disgusting and insensitive.

          There is no “subjective standard” for racism, but I know it when I smell it and I smell plenty here.

  8. I saw a jacket in town of an angry looking Irish man with a tiny hat on his head adorned in shamrock with his fists up looking for a fight. How do we stop this “fighting Irish” insult. We are not all drunks. We must teach children to be kind let’s cancel all sports as the lesson!

  9. Thank you, Councilor Palomba, for your voice. When I heard about and saw the image of the sticker, I was equally as disgusted. I am glad to hear that Town Council President Mark Sideris and School Committee Chair John Portz also spoke out against this. I look forward to the day when all of your colleagues on the Town Council and all members of the School Committee are as willing to call out the racism in this town. Until then, I applaud your work and urge you to keep fighting for change.

  10. gee, someone took the ” I support the police” sign from my front lawn this past week. I hope the Councilor would expend as much energy into having it returned thank you.

  11. Mr P. and the Council had no comments on this report last month.

    Why not??

    Police Log: Catalytic Converter Stolen Off Pickup, Graffiti at Moxley Field
    By Charlie Breitrose | March 7, 2021

    Feb. 27, 1:55 a.m.: Officers conducting a property check at Moxley Field discover graffiti on the field house wall. The officer observed that “(F-word) 12” was written multiple times, which refers to police. 

  12. The reason why Blue Lives Matter is problematic is not because of the police. According to the FBI, the Blue Lives Matter organization has ties to white supremacists groups. It is not an official group of police departments and some police departments want no association with it. People are free to associate with white supremacists but stickers that represent such groups do not belong on town property for which we all pay taxes on.

      • Conflating the issues does not make either right or wrong. The Dept of Public Works will clean up that graffiti. Though until you know who authored it, it will not prevent reoccurrence. Now back to the sticker. One cannot disassociate the sticker from a group associated with white supremacists. The problem with white supremacists is that they are not only dangerous to people who are not white, but they are dangerous to the police. Some of the people at the Straight Pride Parade in Boston were down in DC as part of the mob crushing, beating and hurting the DC police. The Boston Marathon Bomber was white as are most of the homeowners with stockpiles of weapons. Who enters those premises? Who faces the gun pointing white supremacist? It isn’t “Blue Lives” signs or “the Back the Blue” rally holders. To care about the police includes discouraging the existence of racist groups. I trust the FBI more than rogue groups using the police. You can continue to be offended by woke culture or you can discourage all crimes against everyone which helps the police more than empty brand slogans.

  13. and Black Lives Matter has ties to far left groups promoting anarchy and upheaval. Wonderful folks on both sides of the spectrum. Talking about it makes me want to take a long, hot shower.

  14. It’s sad that any expression of sympathy for people who have suffered from systemic discrimination and racism elicits such a rabid reaction from some. The world is changing. Time to deal with that and stop constantly looking backwards.

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