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People Objected When Police In An Ontario Town Tried Selling "Blue Lives Matter" T-Shirts

The Port Hope Police Association says it will "reassess" plans to sell the shirts.

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A police association in Port Hope, Ontario is going to "reassess" the sale of "Blue Lives Matter" t-shirts after a petition was launched calling on them to stop. The Port Hope Police Service also later deleted a tweet, below, that promoted the shirts.

change.org

“This is an appropriation of #BlackLivesMatter, a social movement and hashtag based in the US, which aims to make the racist circumstances faced by Black people more visible," wrote Megan Sheffield, a resident of nearby Cobourg, on the Change.org petition page.

Sheffield wrote that the movement aims to highlight the challenges encountered by Black people and is in no way "implying that any other lives are, by comparison, less valuable."

Port Hope Police Association president Mathew Lawrence told Northumberland Today the idea for the shirts came during a police fundraiser. “It was simply the sale of t-shirts for charity in honour of fallen officers — nothing more,” he said

After her petition attracted attention, Sheffield received a message from a local police officer who said the chief "has directed that the shirts not be sold at the station," and the association was "going to reassess the sale of the shirts."

change.org

"This is a most unfortunate situation in that good intentions have been skewed into something that it most definitely was not intended to be," wrote Inspector Darren Strongman.

Chief Bryant Wood told the paper he felt officers were unfairly being portrayed as racists. “To sit there and point fingers because they have a shirt saying Blue Lives Matter, that we’re somehow racist is simply ridiculous," he said.

Port Hope Police Service / Via phps.on.ca

“I don’t think it’s meant in any way, shape or form as a direct contrast to Black Lives Matter.”

Lyss England lives in Port Hope and is working with Sheffield to get the word out about the petition. She told BuzzFeed Canada that the chief's interpretation of their objections to the shirts is based on misconceptions about Black Lives Matter.

Lyss England

"I think that there are some people involved who have a different understanding of the #BlackLivesMatter campaign, oppression, and systemic violence," she said.

"This is an opportunity for people in all facets of the community to participate in an important discussion about what caring for one another looks like."

She emphasized that she and others who objected to the shirts are not attacking the police association.

"I honestly believe that, as a general rule, they are a great group of people who are dedicated to the community."

Sheffield wrote in a blog post that she is still waiting for the police association to stop all shirt sales and "to apologize and acknowledge that this was an error."

Meghan Sheffield / Via facebook.com

She said she and others are "working together to come up with positive ways of moving forward as a whole community. We don't aim to be armchair critics. We do want to participate in the creative action of accountability and restoration that are part and parcel of a healthy community."

Craig Silverman is Media Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto.

Contact Craig Silverman at craig.silverman@buzzfeed.com.

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