Cops say portion of Black Lives Matter street mural made them sick

In the letter “E” of the street mural in front of Palo Alto City Hall, Oakland artist Cece Carpio painted the likeness of Assata Shakur, a convicted cop killer from New Jersey who escaped from prison and is believed to be in Cuba. Post photo by Dave Price.

Daily Post Staff Writer

In an updated lawsuit, six Palo Alto police officers are claiming that a city-commissioned Black Lives Matter mural created a hostile workplace that caused them to lose sleep, not eat and forced them to go to the doctor.

The officers claim parts of the mural were harassment against all non-African Americans, and the painting put a target on their back in the latest version of their lawsuit.

The officers’ lawsuit against the city of Palo Alto was updated on March 14 after a Santa Clara County judge sided with the city and ruled the officers did not experience a hostile workplace. To win a lawsuit, the officers must show the city took action against them besides simply annoying them, the judge said.

So, the officers included more claims in their third complaint. They said they didn’t have an issue with the mural itself, but rather the painting of Assata Shakur in the letter “E.” Shakur is a civil rights activist turned fugitive after she was convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973.

The purpose of the 245-foot mural on Hamilton Avenue in front of City Hall was to appease African Americans at the expense of all others, the lawsuit says. The officers say the painting of Shakur specifically was harassing, and they had to look at it every day they went to work between July and November 2020, when the city removed the mural.

Depression, anxiety and fear

The painting caused the officers to have depression, anxiety and fear, the lawsuit says.

“Plaintiffs feared daily that they would be target- ed, attacked or threatened at work because they are non-African-American police officers,” the lawsuit says.

The painting “placed a target on their back” and “forced plaintiffs to work under the pressure of a heightened sense of vigilance.”

The officers said they brought their concerns to City Manager Ed Shikada, and he acknowledged that the mural was insulting to some people.

“Some have called (the mural) brilliant and beautiful, while others called it idiocy and an insult,” Shikada allegedly said, according to the revised lawsuit. “I’ve also wondered what the reaction would have been if it were an image of Vladimir Putin or another character — would we be expected to paint it over? In any case, I find myself needing to choose where to draw a line on free speech and enabled expression. As someone that has sworn an oath to protect our Constitution, this is a line I’m not willing to cross.”

The officers say this shows Shikada knew the mural was harassing but did nothing about their complaints.

Early retirement possible

The officers say they continue to suffer humiliation, embarrassment and anxiety by working for the city. They say they may be forced to retire early.

The officers are asking for the city to pay them back for health care, loss of wages and attorney fees in an amount that hasn’t been determined.

Six officers filed the lawsuit: Eric Figueroa, Michael Foley, Robert Parham, Julie Tannock, David Ferreira and Chris Moore.

Moore retired last year, and in a retirement letter criticizing department leadership he called out the rest of the union for not joining in the mural lawsuit.

“The reasons I was given when I reached out to every member in the union about joining the lawsuit fell into three main categories: cowardice, apathy or fear of department retribution. All three are concerning,” Moore wrote.


  1. What bumper sticker should I put on my car to make these people too sick to want to bother me?

    Why was Ed Shikada providing sound bites for the cops’ lawyers?

    p.s. The claim that they had to see this mural every day to get to work is a lie.

  2. WOW!!! ALL You Experts On What A “Trigger” Is For Others, Have Obviously NEVER Been In “Harm’s” Way During The Course Of Your Employment…Your Blessed, But No Way In A Position To Judge These Heroes WHO Daily Stand Between You And Lawlessnesses…,
    Be Thankful You Are So Blessed.

  3. I have stood in harm’s way, as you put it, as both a soldier and peace officer. This lawsuit is an embarrassment to the profession. In no way would a mural stop me from doing my job. And to correct the previous commenter, officers are continually judged by the public — and that’s the way it should be. We are accountable to them and should be able to accept the harshest of criticism.

  4. The lawsuit has to be considered in the context of the immense hostility towards police officers after the Floyd incident and riots. The job of the police from May 2020 onward was a thankless one to say the least, with cops facing constant abuse by regular citizens on a daily basis, many fearing for their lives. The City didn’t just allow the mural but vocally endorsed it, piling on an already volatile situation. It was a slap in the face, kicking the police when they were down and needed our support more than ever. Most cops are good, decent people trying to protect our rights and enforce the law.

  5. I completely agree with HotrodRoy & Alvin. The climate we live in at this time has a tremendous amount of hostility & hatred towards law enforcement. Why do you think there is such a shortage of officers & recruits…. It’s a thankless job. Officers r not supported by their city politicians, citizens or the media. It’s sad that people r blind & ignorant to the risk these individuals take on a daily basis, in addition to working for a city that honors a person who killed law enforcement officers or anyone for that matter is a crime in itself. Unfortunately people are forgetful in regards to what these law enforcement officers do & see on a basis. Think about what they see & experience daily. Don’t look at it from the perspective watching a video or news, really think about what they do, it’s humbling.

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