UNION CITY (CBS SF) -- A large home-made banner that reads "White Lives Matter" was taken down by the Union City police Saturday morning and while it wasn't the first time such a banner had appeared in the city, the mayor said the timing was what made it even more troubling.
"It's certainly very insensitive, again, because of the context, the insurrection at our national Capitol, as well as this is the weekend where we honor and celebrate Martin Luther King Junior and his life," said Union City Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci.
The mayor worried the banner would incite violence since law enforcement is already on high alert and concerned about violence leading up to the presidential inauguration.
Someone hung the banner at the corner of Smith and Dyer Streets. Police took it down around 9 a.m. The mayor said any banner there would require a city permit and permission. The site is located across from the Union Landing Shopping Center, and it may be the busiest intersection in the city.
"So whoever put it up wanted to get people's attention," said Neil Prasad, who lives across the street from where the banner was hanging.
The president of the Hayward South Alameda County NAACP chapter Freddye Davis said whoever made the sign doesn't understand the phrase "Black Lives Matter."
"It does not mean that other lives (don't) matter because they do. But if you look at history, the Black lives are the ones that have gotten the worse end of the stick," said Davis.
Davis said the phrase "Black Lives Matter" just means that Black Lives Matter, too. Because many African Americans believed they are disproportionately impacted by police violence and systematic racism. She said the phase "White Lives Matter" ignores the struggles Black people face in this country.
"It's very offensive. It's very racist. And systemic racism is so embedded in this country that we definitely got to do something about it.," said Davis.
"In my opinion, all lives matter. And we should all just be one, you feel me? (The White Lives Matter banner is) not cool," said neighbor Jalonnie Price.
While many people found the banner insensitive, some believed it's freedom of speech.
"I see it as just another person's opinion. That's all. That's their opinion. And a lot of things are being said to stir people up. So I don't get it," said neighbor Mary Samarron.
The police department investigated it. While they said the sign may be insensitive, it's not a crime. Union City residents said they had seen large "White Lives Matter" banners in the city back in August 2020.
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