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Social justice sign garden sparks conversation along with controversy

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    LIVERMORE, CA (KPIX) — Organizers of a sign garden in Downtown Livermore say the intent was to create a conversation in the community about the Black Lives Matter movement and social justice in general.

Sierra Bailey, who helped organize the sign garden, is with Tri-Valley for Black Lives and explains, “Some of [the signs] express support for Black Lives Matter, some of them express support for Breonna Taylor and a lot of them are specific to black trans lives.”

But it was one particular sign that sparked deep emotion for Nicole Thomas, a wife of a Livermore police sergeant. Thomas is referring to a sign that read “Blue Lives Matter” with a line written diagonally across it.

“But when signs like that go up, I don’t think people notice. But it creates greater risk, it makes their job that much more dangerous and I don’t know if officers feel comfortable openly talking about that. And spouses often don’t feel comfortable talking about that, when we do people don’t hear the human side of it so I decided that that wasn’t okay,” she said.

Thomas said a friend took the sign down, but she says it still doesn’t take away what she feels.

“I think that that sign was interpreted a certain way that it may not have been intended to” Bailey said. “It literally just said ‘Blue Lives Matter’ with a line across it and when I see a sign like that I see a rejection of the phrase Blue Lives Matter which is used to antagonize Black Lives Matter protesters. So I don’t see a sign like that and say it’s anti-police I see a sign like that and say it’s against the phrase that used to antagonize Black Lives Matter.”

Livermore Mayor John Marchand, who said law enforcement is important to him, said it comes down to one’s personal interpretation.

“There are some people I know who are very upset about some of the signs here, but it’s their interpretation and their interpretation is real. It’s people’s right to express themselves,” the mayor said.

The sign garden is not sanctioned by the city, but it is on city property. Organizers have already agreed to remove the signs by Friday and plan to put up another sign garden in another part of the Tri-Valley.

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