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'It's So Hateful': UTLA In Hot Water After Posting Photo Of Board Member Wearing 'Blue Lives Murder' Shirt

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — United Teachers Los Angeles, the union that represents Los Angeles Unified School District teachers, was facing backlash Thursday night after a photo posted to Instagram showed a board member wearing a shirt that said, "Blue Lives Murder."

Blue Lives Murder Julie Van Winkle
A post on the UTLA Instagram page showed Secondary VP Julie Van Winkle wearing a shirt that said, "Blue Lives Murder." The post has since been removed. Credit: UTLA/Instagram)

"My initial reaction was that I didn't think I had read it right, but then I realized that it really did say, 'Blue Lives Murder,'" Niki Lopez, a mother of two LAUSD students, said.

The photo was posted Wednesday, when UTLA encouraged its members to wear Black Lives Matter shirts to support a teacher who received death threats after wearing a shirt that said, "I Can't Breathe."

Lopez, who is both the daughter and wife of Los Angeles police officers, said the other photos posted did not bother her, but the one worn by Secondary Vice President Julie Van Winkle did.

"It's so hateful, and it's so negative about police officers in general," Lopez said. "And just kind of making a blanket statement about them all being murderers."

On Thursday night, Van Winkle sent a statement to CBS Los Angeles that said, in part:

"I posted a picture of myself wearing a shirt with a message that does not reflect the views of UTLA. That post and my personal post have both been removed. I apologize for this and for distracting from the real work that needs to happen. We need to bring attention to what really matters — fighting for Black lives in our schools and in our communities."

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents Los Angeles Police Department officers called the post shameful.

"We're taking the issue of improving policing seriously while some stand on the sidelines looking to stoke fires, create division," the union said in a statement.

But for Lopez, the biggest concern was that UTLA — which represents thousands of teachers across Los Angeles — including those who teach her own children — would repost the photo to begin with.

"And I just don't think it's right," she said. "As an educator, I think that you need to think of all students and how you present yourself and how it affects all students, and I just don't think that this was done in that case."

UTLA did not immediately return a request for comment.

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