Updated: Jul 28, 2020
The Anne Arundel County Police Department has said the blinking text signs with the Martin Luther King Jr. quote: “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” will stay up adjacent to its buildings until they are needed elsewhere.
The quote is from his letter from a Birmingham jail, penned April 16 1963 from a jail cell after
he was arrested after protesting the treatment of Black Americans in Birmingham, Alabama.
Forty seven years later his words from that letter continue to flash in front of Anne Arundel County police stations.
You may have seen the blinking yellow signs while driving by the police headquarters, or the eastern, southern or western district stations. They went up after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis May 25.
“We do a lot of community outreach,” said Sergeant Jacklyn Davis, director of media relations for the department. “And COVID has really put a hamper on that. So we were trying to think of another way to reach people who may or may not be on social media where people driving by could see where we stood on that issue—that it was completely unacceptable and we won't won't let that happen here.”
Davis said the signage effort was initiated by Chief Timothy Altomare after George Floyd was killed in late May while being detained by Minneapolis Police Department Officers.
She said there’s no set time frame when the quote is going to come down, it’s just going to be if the resources are needed elsewhere. Davis explained what some of the conditions might be that would require the signage to be moved:
“If another agency or somebody needs them for something else, they're a county resource,” she said, “If a roadway shuts down or somebody needs to get another message out--let's say a COVID thing.”
She noted the protesting and movement for social change in Anne Arundel County has been predominately peaceful.
“I think we’ve had a lot of gatherings and assemblies in the county that have all been extremely peaceful and productive,” Davis said. “I don’t know if they’ve really slowed down or if the media has really just changed the direction that they’re looking.”
Although the department has implemented recent initiatives for police reform, she said the work may not be done.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Davis said.
Signage at Telegraph Road (state Route 170) in front of the AACPD's Western District Station, 8273 Telegraph Road. Odenton MD 2113, with a Martin Luther King Jr. quote.