Dear Arlington friends and neighbors,
A Back the Blue rally to support Arlington police officers in front of Town Hall on Thursday, September 10th has been announced. The organizers of this event appear to be affiliated with “Act for America”, an organization that has been designated as a hate group by national organizations who monitor hate crimes and hate speech, including the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. The Arlington Human Rights Commission strongly condemns any group that stands for and encourages hate and racist views toward any members of our community. Protests sponsored by such groups are often intended to foment civil unrest and create fear to gain media attention and followers.
The organizers claim to be coming to Arlington to support the Arlington Police Department. We, the Arlington Human Rights Commission, have a long history of working with and supporting the Arlington Police and deeply value our relationship with Chief Flaherty and all those who work with her to protect and serve our community. The Commission is concerned, however, that the organizer’s true motive for coming to Arlington is to create division and tension.
The Arlington Human Rights Commission affirms the right and need to protest and to counter-protest, but the safety of Arlington residents is of paramount importance to us. With that in mind, the AHRC offers these suggestions:
GET EDUCATED: You can learn about “Act for America” and other hate groups here: https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/act-america https://www.adl.org/resources/profiles/act-for-america
CONSIDER THE EFFECT OF YOUR PRESENCE: Hate groups design their protests to generate maximum counter-protests, as a way to attract attention. Photos and video coverage with large counter-protests in the same frame magnify the apparent importance of the event. If you participate in a counter-protest, we urge you to stay far enough away from Town Hall that the “Back the Blue” protest is seen as its own limited event.
BE SAFE: Counter-protesting at another site is a good way to avoid violence.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU: We support respectful, constructive discussions about how to continue to make our community a safe and welcoming place for everyone. These conversations are ongoing and if you would like to be part of these conversations and have ideas and thoughts, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The rights of free speech and assembly are constitutionally guaranteed and they are essential to the protection of American democracy. We ask you to consider this Statement and our suggestions as you make your own decisions about safely participating in a protest or counter-protest on Thursday afternoon.
Arlington values equity, diversity, and inclusion. We are committed to building a community where everyone is heard, respected, and protected.
By Mail: 27 Maple Street
Arlington, MA 02476