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A photo circulating social media has the Hollywood Police Department on the defense after one of their officers was seen taking pictures with members of a group supporting keeping the names of several former Confederate generals on city streets.
Levell Strong, who was part of the group protesting the names of three streets – Lee, Hood and Forrest – snapped a photo about an hour after the protests had ended. It showed an unidentified officer posing for photos with those supporting the names – people who some protesters said were hurling racial slurs at them during the often contentious events Wednesday.
The anti-street name protesters, including members of Take Down Slavery Symbols Hollywood and the Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward, say that the pro-street sign members were still pointing and laughing while taking pictures with the officers – however, they say he did not participate in that behavior.
Hollywood Police PIO Miranda Grossman spoke with NBC 6’s Marissa Bagg, saying a woman asked to take a picture with the officer as part of the Hug a Cop initiative designed to thank officers for their service.
Grossman went on to say that “this wasn’t the officer or anyone with the police department siding with either side” and that members of the department were talking to both sets of protesters. She did agree that it “wasn’t the right time to fraternize”, but said it wasn’t malicious and he did not mean to upset anyone.
Five people were arrested during Wednesday’s events – the latest in various efforts that have been made in the past to change the names, honoring Robert E. Lee, John Bell Hood and Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was also the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
Several cities, including Orlando and New Orleans, have taken down statues in recent weeks commemorating the Confederacy after heated debate from both sides of the issue.