Update Aug. 18: About 50 people—including several members of the Medford Ward 8 Democratic Committee—showed up at this week’s city council meeting, with several speaking out about the sign. The council voted unanimously to move the November general election polling location for ward 8-2 from the VFW to the Senior Center on Riverside Ave. Note that the September 4 primary election will still use the VFW polling location. Thanks to all who attended and spoke up!
At its July 26 meeting, the Medford Ward 8 Democratic Committee unanimously passed a resolution condemning the “All Lives Matter” sign posted at the Medford VFW. The VFW is the polling place for residents of Medford’s ward 8, precinct 2, which spans from Medford Square to South Medford along the Main Street corridor. Committee member and secretary Mimi Gordon introduced the motion to adopt the resolution.
The sign was posted in response to the “Black Lives Matter” movement, which calls attention to the dramatically increased risk of violence—especially by law enforcement—toward African Americans. While the phrase “All Lives Matter” sounds innocuous on its face, the committee asserts that the phrase is a direct rejection of “Black Lives Matter,” making it offensive to blacks and other minorities, along with those supporting the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
“With this sign, the VFW sends a clear message that it doesn’t welcome those who stand up for underserved minorities,” said Maxim Weinstein, chair of the Medford Ward 8 Democratic Committee. “All Medford residents should feel welcome when they show up to exercise their right to vote.”
The committee is calling on the VFW to voluntarily take down the sign. The Medford Human Rights Commission previously requested the same, but the VFW refused. The committee also encourages concerned residents to contact the City Clerk and members of the City Council, asking them to change the polling location for upcoming elections if the sign is not removed. The committee suggested the new city DPW facility, which is near the VFW, as a possible replacement.
The complete text of the resolution follows:
Whereas the VFW at 114 Mystic Avenue Medford is the polling place for Ward 8, Precinct 2,
Whereas Mayor Stephanie M. Burke and the Medford City Council have declared Medford as a welcoming city in November 2016,
Whereas the All Lives Matter sign on the VFW building is not a welcoming sign and is in conflict with a welcoming city message,
Whereas the phrase Black Lives Matter was created to highlight the demonstrable evidence that black lives matter less than white lives in the criminal justice system,
Whereas black people are 3 or more times more likely to be stopped, arrested, convicted and serve longer terms for the same crimes as white people,
Whereas All Lives Matter was created as a criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement and has been espoused by many opposed to equality in the criminal justice system,
Whereas the All Lives Matter phrase offends supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement and its display in a polling site may make people uncomfortable about exercising their right to vote there,
Therefore the Medford Ward 8 Democratic Committee opposes the use of the All Lives Matter phrase and supports any and all efforts to remove the sign from the VFW, cover the sign on election day, and/ or move the polling site to a more neutral, welcoming location, such as the new DPW building.
Adopted by the Medford Ward 8 Democratic Committee
July 26, 2018