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Five police officers have sued Palo Alto, saying the California city allowed a Black Lives Matter mural to be created with “discriminatory and harassing” images against police.
The mural was created in June 2020 across from city hall after George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died while in police custody on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, The Daily Post reported. Floyd’s death sparked an avalanche of protests across the nation.
Palo Alto city spokeswoman Meghan Horrigan said in July 2020 that “in no way does the mural take away from the value we have in our police officers who serve our community every day” and that it would stay on the street for “up to a year.” It was removed in November, according to the publication.
Officers Eric Figueroa, Michael Foley, Christopher Moore, Robert Parham and Julie Tannock sued Palo Alto and the Palo Alto Police Department for discrimination and harassment in a lawsuit filed June 4.
According to the lawsuit, the mural included an image of Assata Shakur, who was convicted of first degree murder for the death of a New Jersey state trooper and given two life sentences before fleeing to Cuba in 1979, where she was granted asylum.
The mural also contained a logo of the New Black Panthers, which has been called a “virulently racist and antisemitic organization” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The officers were “forced to physically pass and confront the mural and its offensive, discriminatory, and harassing iconography every time they entered the Palo Alto Police Department,” according to the lawsuit.
Palo Alto city attorney Molly Stump didn’t immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Friday but told The Daily Post that the city has yet to be served with the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states that the city and police department allowed “harassing and discriminatory iconography to exist in the workplace” and “sanctioned, approved, encouraged, and paid for it.”
The police officers also said the mural was discriminatory against them based on their “race, national origin, and/or color.”