The United Nations headquarters in New York City turned someone away last Friday on the grounds of what it constituted a "political protest." The UN barred a visitor with a "Black Lives Matter" patch that she wore on her coat, when the security officer told the woman that she could not enter the building because the patch bearing those words violated a ban on political protests inside the U.N. compound, reported Reuters.
According to the UN daily press briefing transcript, UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric called on a member of the press on Monday who asked about the incident, as well as the UN policy on political slogans:
On Friday, there was someone who was brought in by a member of the UN press who had a patch on her coat that said “Black Lives Matter”, which is, you know, I think we can all agree a statement of fact. And the person was refused entry into the UN because she had this patch and only when she removed it was she allowed in. Just wondering what the policy is for these kinds of things and how it's determined what constitutes kind of political slogan and what doesn't. We were a bit surprised.
Dujarric said it was "almost the first" he had heard about it, and the next day responded to the question:
In response to a question regarding a security incident on Friday, the Spokesman said that UN security officials say there is a long-standing organizational policy that does not permit visitors to come in wearing political messages, display banners or distribute leaflets outside of a planned event and with proper authorization.
The slogan "Black Lives Matter" has become a rallying cry for the Michael Brown and Eric Garner protestors, serving a blunt reminder to America that racial equality is still far from a reality. Created after the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, the slogan came to nationwide prominence over the past few turbulent months, following Brown's and Garner's deaths at the hands of white police officers. Their killings sparked an outrage that manifested in protest upon protest across cities across the country.
Demonstrators were further incensed following both officers' acquittals by two separate grand juries, and it reignited the debate surrounding police brutality, race and a defective criminal justice system.
The woman, who spoke to Reuters but declined to be identified, was granted access to the building after removing her coat. Despite its headquarters being stationed in Manhattan, the building is considered international territory administered by the U.N. secretariat, Reuters reported. In this particular case, said Dujarric,
[T]he security officer acted properly in accordance with regulations.
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