CENTREVILLE, Va. (WUSA9) -- A "Black Lives Matter" sign spotted near a farm in Virginia caused a brief outcry by the Fairfax Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 77.
The FOP posted on Facebook that the sign was in hung in a management building on Cox Farms in Centreville, Va. and asked people to protest the farm because the sign was a slap in the face. However, Gina Cox, the owner of the farm, said the house belongs to her daughter and is on private property.
"It's her private property and she can put up any political sign she wants to in her yard," Cox said. "We treasure our relationship with our local police force, it's not anything against them at all."
The FOP has taken down the original post and said the sign's intent was misrepresented in a second post.
The Facebook post they made, which was removed because of the unprecedented public outrage towards their attempt to bully a local landmark and beloved destination, further reinforces the lack of trust in the Fairfax County Police Department," said Mike Curtis with Virginia CopBlock, a police transparency and accountability watchdog group.
The brief controversy shows how the phrase and movement "Black Lives Matter" easily strikes a nerve with police officers.
"Unfortunately that [phrase] has been hijacked by a small group of anti-police individuals. And now when law enforcement views Black Lives Matter we see - in social media and through protests - the violence that is inflicted on law enforcement," Brad Carruthers, President of the Fairfax FOP said.
Black Lives Matter DMV told WUSA9 that, if anything, their movement is here to address anti-Blackness in communities.
Erika Totten with the group denied the claim that their movement has been hijacked.
"That's propaganda being spread in hopes that it will silence the voices of Black people and to heighten the perception that we are threats to be taken down. We are unarmed protesters fighting against police brutality and if that evokes fear into armed, heavily protected police officers they need to find another line of work," she said.
Carruthers sees the movement playing out differently.
"If you've seen the rioting and destruction of communities, it's actually taking away from their movement because [Black Lives Matter] is not promoting the violence that's going on," said Carruthers.
Black Lives Matter agrees that they're not promoting violence, but they are focusing on the issue of violence against African-Americans.
"It's not an attack on individual officers; it's a movement to highlight the structural oppression Black people face in this country. When Black men, women and children are dying in the street at the hands of a law enforcement officer every 28 hours, when most of the people incarcerated are there for non violent crimes, when a Black boy can be assaulted for using the ATM and for making gentrifies uncomfortable, how can we not begin the conversation on how to eradicate racial bias in our criminal justice system."
Carruthers said supporting Black Lives Matter and supporting police are not mutually exclusive.
"We do believe in Black Lives Matter. The fact of the matter is, and I know it's a cliché of all lives matter, but we want to work with the communities to strengthen community trust," Carruthers said.
Cox said neither she nor her farm is taking a political stance.
"No, we're not taking a political stance. It's her private property. I don't have any signs up on our property on the farm as a whole... we welcome everyone here," Cox said.
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