“Safety of All Lives Matter” Traffic Sign Met With Backlash in Massachusetts Town
Melrose, MA – A traffic sign in a Boston suburb drew outrage from the town’s mayor and an apology from the local police chief this week.
Up until a few weeks ago, messages on traffic signs were understood to be related to, well… traffic safety.
However, what happened in Melrose, MA this week undoubtedly has many state DOTs re-evaluating the messaging on its signs in fear of a possible backlash.
On Wednesday morning, a traffic officer in the Boston suburb, with a population of about 25,000 people, placed an electronic sign on Main Street.
The sign read, “The Safety of All Lives Matter.”
A few hours later, the mayor of Melrose, Paul Brodeur, took to social media to apologize.
“I have just been made aware that the following traffic sign is being displayed on Main Street,” he wrote. “I have ordered that it be taken down immediately and am taking steps to find out how this happened. I apologize to the residents of Melrose.”
The message was quickly erased.
A short time later, Melrose Police Chief Michael Lyle, released a statement confirming an investigation into the matter had been launched.
He too apologized for the “unfortunate wording.”
“A traffic officer was recently ordered to update the message from a reminder about fireworks being illegal to a more general traffic safety message,” Lyle said. “The message was updated with a reminder about obeying the speed limit, and the message ended with ‘the safety of all lives matter.’”
He continued, “I am aware that the phrase ‘all lives matter’ is commonly used as a misguided counter to the Black Lives Matter movement. The sign was immediately changed and at the request of the Mayor, I launched an investigation, which is ongoing.”
Chief Lyle informed that the officer indicated he had no “malicious or political intent” when crafting the message.
“The officer, by his account, was trying to type a traffic safety message in the limited space offered by the electronic sign and did not realize the totality or impact of the words he had posted,” Lyle explained.
Still, the messaging on the sign drew harsh criticism from some local community leaders.
In an interview with NBC Boston, Melrose City Councilor Maya Jamaleddine, expressed her outrage over the incident.
“Right now, it’s only about Black people,” said Jamaleddine. “It’s not about everyone. Right now, what matters is to keep Black people safe and alive, they’re fighting for their lives.”
Mayor Brodeur’s Facebook post has more than 1,400 comments, many of which are quite spirited.
For instance, Kelly Thorn wrote, “Thank you for acting rapidly. That wasn’t an ‘accidental’ phrasing no matter what excuse is given. It’s a not-very-coded dog whistle.”
On the other side of the argument, Martha Kaminsky said, “That is absolutely ridiculous; to apologize for this sign, ‘the safety of all lives matters.’ It is insulting to me as a human being that the safety of all lies do not matter.”
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