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Tucson City Council members respond to mayor’s statement about painting blue line in front of TPD headquarters

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Tucson Mayor Regina Romero is calling for the City Manager Mike Ortega to reverse his decision after he reportedly approved a request to paint a thin blue line in front of Tucson Police Department headquarters.

Back on June 19, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero commissioned a "Black Lives Matter" banner to be displayed at City Hall in celebration of Juneteenth - the holiday that honors the emancipation of slavery in the United States.

Romero said the decision to display this banner was to show solidarity with the Black community amid the recent displays across the country in protest of police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

On Thursday, Romero took to Twitter to share that she received a request from an "individual with known ties to White supremacy" to paint a thin blue line in front of the TPD headquarters.

She said the request was submitted by a Tucson City Council member's office and approved by the city manager, Mike Ortega.

"I unequivocally disavow this effort that serves to incite and divide our community, and minimizes the Black Lives Matter Movement," she said. "This request should have never been approved and I am calling the City Manager to immediately reverse his decision."

https://twitter.com/TucsonRomero/status/1278833897699069952/photo/1

Shortly after Romero released her statement, Tucson City Councilwoman Nikki McLee released her own statement about the request.

According to the statement, the request to paint a thin blue line in front of the police station was made by the group "Tucson Back the Blue." The group reportedly reached out to the councilwoman on Wednesday after McLee said they sent "multiple inquiries to city officials with no response."

The councilwoman said she then forwarded the inquiry to the city manager and transportation director, resulting in the Transportation Department contacting the group to give them information about the permit process.

"Unfortunately, in doing my job of being a responsive local government official and escalating constituent concerns/questions, I have been accused of supporting white supremacists and white supremacy organizations," McLee said in the statement. "I am disgusted at this allegation, and equally disgusted at the continued tactics at play to divide our community for the sole purpose of pushing political agendas forward."

Statement from Councilwoman Nikki LeeOn July 1, 2020, I was made aware - via a constituent call to the Ward 4 office -...

Posted by Councilwoman Nikki Lee on Thursday, July 2, 2020

Fellow city council member Steve Kozachik released the following response in connection to the conversation surrounding the request.

Fellow Tucsonans – 

For all the wrong reasons, Tucson is yet again in the national news. To be in the spotlight for allegations of having a rouge police agency is wrong. TPD is not such an agency. To be in the national spotlight for allegations of being overrun by white supremacist groups is wrong. That is not Tucson, and it is wrong for public officials or others to falsely portray this community in those terms. 

Tucson is about diversity, and Tucson is about welcoming others. Even others who may bring a view to the table with which we disagree. And yet, we seem to have lost the ability to sit at that table and dialog. Instead, some choose to take to social media and inaccurately import national narratives that may indeed apply to other cities and towns and try to make them fit Tucson. That square peg does not fit this round hole. 

We must make room for difficult conversations in ways that hold hope for a constructive outcome. That means laying aside accusatory social media posts and focusing on Tucson values. Focusing on ways to celebrate who we are and avoid tearing apart our fabric in order to foster personal ambition. 

I’m grateful to Tucsonans who embrace who we are and are not afraid to face the difficult conversation of how we can be better. The Mayor and City Council should lead that discussion. I will do my part to ensure the next time we make the national news, it’s to show how we have led in bringing the community together and not portraying us as a broken community as may be true in other parts of the country.

Steve Kozachik, Tucson City Councilman

Black Lives Matter Tucson released a response directed to McLee after she shared her statement on her social media accounts.

The group's statement is listed below.

Tucson Karen: AKA Councilwoman Nikki LeeBeing married to a black man does not absolve you of anti-black racism....

Posted by Black Lives Matter Tucson on Thursday, July 2, 2020

The individual who applied for a permit to paint the blue line spoke with News 4 Tucson. Watch the video above for his statement.

This is a developing story. Stay with News 4 Tucson for the latest updates.

Anthony Victor Reyes

Anthony Victor Reyes is the lead digital content producer at News 4 Tucson. The award-winning journalist previously worked as a community reporter in Jasper County, Iowa.

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