Update: Rockland Trust reinstates BLM signs

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Updated 6:40 pm

Rockland Trust has reinstated Black Lives Matter signs in the windows of its downtown Edgartown location. The bank kicked a hornet’s nest recently when it opted to take down a Black Lives Matter sign following a local complaint. Representatives of the bank have said the sign was damaged or “sun damaged,” and needed to go. The branch manager also said such signage naturally rotates. 

The Black Lives Matter sign in question was in the window of the Main Street branch, according to Jane Chittick, the person who complained. Chittick opted to share her email complaint with The Times recently. Following the complaint, an email exchange ensued between Chittick, bank CEO Chris Oddleifson, and branch manager Delos (“Dee”) Lander.

At one point, Lander appears to have capitulated to Chittick’s request. “Jane, I have discussed this matter with Tilma [Johnson, regional manager] and my managers and we have decided to remove the signs,” he wrote. “We will be using more traditional messaging from our marketing team that demonstrates Rockland’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Thanks, Dee”

Lander declined to answer follow-up questions, and referred inquiry to Rockland Trust headquarters. A representative from the public relations firm Solomon, McCown, and Cence confirmed the signage had been in the Main Street branch. She also said the signage would be put back up July 2.

“So they’re putting it back up? Maybe they’re going to make a better-looking one,” Chittick said Thursday. “I’ve got a lot of phone calls at home. They think I was right.”

The decision has generated more than 100 comments on social media and in The Times online comments.

In a statement issued July 1, Oddleifson expressed strong support for Black Lives Matter. 

“Rockland Trust fervently stands with the Black Lives Matter movement messages of justice, fairness, and equality,” he stated. “Decisions regarding signage should be made at the corporate level. The branch was not instructed to take this signage down, and the Rockland Trust marketing team has developed a new sign to replace the damaged sign with the same messaging.”

Asked what the Edgartown Board of Trade’s stance was on the signage, vice president Julia Tarka referred questions to the board. Tarka noted her business, Rosewater Market, supports Black Lives Matter, as she wrote in a Letter to the Editor of The MV Times this week. A support sign has been in the window of Rosewater Market since at least February, she said.

In an email to The Times, Board of Trade executive director Erin Ready addressed the sign issue. “The Edgartown Board of Trade is the principal voice for business in the town of Edgartown. It is dedicated to fostering an economic climate that enhances and improves the quality of life in the community, and it will work to accomplish these tasks while protecting the historic character of the town, the natural beauty, and its sense of community,” she wrote. “Rockland Trust is a valued member of the Edgartown Board of Trade. The Edgartown Board of Trade supports its members, and knows Rockland Trust to be deeply committed to and involved in the community and town. We support our members sharing the ways they contribute to our community and the causes they value.”

Updated to include reinstated signs and additional comments from Julia Tarka.  –Ed.

56 COMMENTS

    • You mean they lost you. Good riddance, I say. More rights for everyone doesn’t mean less rights for you. Why is this so hard to understand?

    • 1) At worst, the number of customers they “lose” will be inconsequential, 2) thank you for exposing yourself as bigot, and 3) step aside, you’re clearly on the wrong side of history.

    • I don’t believe there are that many intolerant shoppers in Edgartown, Augusta. Most people are thrilled to get take out these pandemic days, too. There are not many businesses in Edgartown that cater to white suprematists’ ideals, so your threats are hollow, as shocking as that must be to a privileged someone used to beOmg listened to. Just a suggestion, but you’d do well to follow my unsaintly dad’s advice. “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”

    • Please list all other stores with a BLM sign in the window so civilized people will know where to shop.

    • I have never been to Rosewater Market, but will be heading there next time I’m in Edgartown. I will also be closing my accounts at MV Savings and moving them to Rockland Trust.

    • To the comment re The Black Lives Matter sign at the Rockland Bank in Edgartown. I don’t believe that this sign is supporting the organization that you describe as a Marxist organization. Instead it’s the sentiment that has taken so many black, brown and white protesters to take up hand made signs saying “Black Lives Matter”. I applaud the bank for putting the sign back!

  1. Making some popcorn so I can sit back and watch the keyboard warriors go at it for round 2…

      • I don’t fight for justice in the comment section of a website, I believe in getting things done in the real world that will amount to actual change. The amount of time people waste here on both sides is amusing.

        • Sorry to break it to you, Spanky, but making and eating popcorn isn’t anyone’s idea of accomplishment.

          • Wow Jackie, I am disappointed I did not solicit your typical five paragraph diatribe. Did Eversource cut power to your basement?

          • Glad your power is back on, I’m sure you’ve got a busy day on the message boards. Go get em tiger!

        • BSd– so what do you do in the real world to promote positive social change ? I’m not sure how to do that. perhaps I could join you in your real world efforts.

          • Something that I think has been particularly impactful is overseeing my firm’s recruiting process to increase the proportion of women and minorities in our workforce.

        • You must be really old.
          Comment sections is where people today develop their political thinking.
          The “barber shops” are closed

  2. Rosewater Market just gained eight new customers from our household alone. More power to them!

  3. I am curious to know:
    Does the bank also display signs for candidates running for office–
    Democratic and/or Republican?

  4. Rockland Trust, and every other business on Martha’s Vineyard ought to do a little research on the organization known as “Black Lives Matter.” It is far more than just an expression of equal justice under law and love of neighbor regardless of race, creed or color. The entity known as Black Lives Matter is an avowed Marxist political group which is an enemy of the U.S. government and the capitalist economic system. They seek higher taxes, imposition of the “Green New Deal, “free” college tuition, “free” or mostly free, medical insurance, payment of reparations and a host of other socialist economic and political aims. Nothing in their recent long list of demands has anything to do with police brutality or saving black lives. No one should be posting signs of support, or worse, making donations, to this group unless you know and agree with their political agenda.

    • Barney– I read their “manifesto”. It sounds pretty good to me.
      Give me the choice as to what they stand for and an ignorant bafoon that has clearly degraded our country ( I’m talking about trump) and I’ll take the BLM side every time.
      Look at what trump and his cult members stand for.
      Anti science — both covid and environmental policies are devastating.
      Build a wall , throw 14 million people off of medical insurance, break immigration and asylum laws and shut everyone out, destroy our relationship with our long term close military alliances, start trade wars with our long term trading partners, a president who disregards all manner of rule of law, and fires any prosecutor looking into his criminal activity, nepotism, and more negative stuff.
      And add to that just a down right meanness ,bullying, and childish name calling that has infected the brains of people who are still willfully ignorant enough to support this idiot.
      I stand with BLM !

      • dondondon12-Right on point-great comment says it all-i wish i could have put it like that-my feelings exactly. As for Barney-the earth is not flat and the temperature is actually rising.

    • Correct. A simple Google search will give you more info than you need. That was my point – this group is not as innocuous as it sounds.

    • To be fair, I’m also an enemy of our current Capitalist system, and for free(taxpayer funded) education and health care, so count me in.

  5. If you go by the comments on here it is starting to like Rockland is going to lose ~15% of it’s customers due due to the BLM signs the theri windows.
    And pick up 30% for the same reason.

  6. “I’ve got a lot of phone calls at home. They think I was right.” ~Jane Chittick

    Who is “they” and how many is “a lot”? I’m going to take a wild guess that you had one phone call… from Augusta. Even she admits that bigots don’t want to speak up.

  7. As the MV Times digs his heels in deeper on this story, apparently spurred by a large number of reader comments calling them brave and virtuous, I continue to be baffled by why a paper sign in a bank window continues to make headlines.

    What are we even talking about? It’s not as if Rockland trust posted a sign in opposition to Black Lives Matter, or refused to post a Black Lives Matter sign.

    No, no …. it’s that they posted the BLM sign in the window for a few weeks, and then decided to take it down. Not because some customer asked them to, but because the sun faded the lettering and they also rotate these signs routinely.

    The lead paragraph of this article says the bank “kicked a hornets nest“ when they decided to take the sign down.

    Did they really? Did anyone even notice? And if they did notice, why did they notice? And why did they care?

    There are literally hundreds of these signs posted across the island. They’re on lawns in front of homes, in store windows, on T-shirts and hats. I even saw a dog wearing a Black Lives Matter sweater yesterday (seriously).

    But the bank’s decision to remove the sign after a few weeks as part of a routine rotation is fodder for a series of in-depth news articles in the local paper?

    By that logic should the removal of any Black Lives Matter signs be newsworthy? Or should the signs stay up forever, becoming a permanent fixture of our island like trees or stop signs?

    The Summer Camp Hotel in Oak Bluffs had a huge Black Lives Matter sign hanging from the façade of its main building just a few weeks ago, but it was removed. I am sure so paying guest would be able to look out the windows of their rooms.

    Why didn’t the removal of that sign not kick a hornets nest and become the subject of a news article, or series of news articles?

    It seems there are many people right now who are constantly, almost desperately, searching for examples of racism in our society.

    And many of these same people are already convinced our entire society is rotten to the core, plagued by an inherent evil of systematic racism that permeates every aspect of our country.

    And as a result we come up with some pretty poor examples of racism, some of which are demonstrably false … a supposed noose in a park in Oakland, which turned out to be exercise equipment placed there by an African-American … an alleged noose in a NASCAR garage, which turned out to be a pull handle for a garage door … A television star allegedly attacked by two MAGA wearing hats on a frigid cold Chicago night, which … we’ll you know the story.

    And now we have the removal of a paper sign in a window in a bank on Martha’s Vineyard. Which did have the correct message, but apparently was not posted in the window long enough.

    And the reason the sign was removed? It wasn’t the fading of the lettering due to the sun, or the routine rotation of signage. No no …. the reason the sign was taken down was because, well you already know …. it’s RACISM.

    I do believe that Black Lives Matter, but I also support police and don’t think they should be defunded or vilified. If you show me a Police reform bill or training initiative or other program that will help prevent tragic deaths like that of George Floyd and many others, I will wholeheartedly support it.

    If you show me a clear example of a racist Policy, or incident, or person, I will demonstrate my opposition.

    But this current culture where unfounded accusations of racism fly freely and people search for instances of racism in every nook and cranny, and where some use racism as a tool to damage those who disagree with them … well that’s not healthy or sustainable.

    • Eh…I think maybe you missed the point here…the impassioned commentary here has less to do with the sign being taken down than the reaction to the all-lives-matter argument against it. Please assure us all that you “see” the emotional and visceral response to the mistreatment of persons of color rather than the mere physical act of a sign-removal as the substance of this discussion.

    • Jimmy, a large number of people have not commended the Times for running the story. I believe I am the only one who’s mentioned it. “A series of in-depth news articles”? Two is a series? We depend on good journalism to cover stories using the 5 W’s and this story of community bank vs white privileged, bigoted demands does just that. There are many people searching desperately in this country for examples of emboldened racists keeping their mouths shut. You think that people are coming up with pretty poor examples of racism? Here is an incomplete list (compiled by PBS) of people’s final moments just before they were killed by police:
      “Eric Garner had just broken up a fight, according to witness testimony.

      Ezell Ford was walking in his neighborhood.

      Michelle Cusseaux was changing the lock on her home’s door when police arrived to take her to a mental health facility.

      Tanisha Anderson was having a bad mental health episode, and her brother called 911.

      Tamir Rice was playing in a park.

      Natasha McKenna was having a schizophrenic episode when she was tazed in Fairfax, Va.

      Walter Scott was going to an auto-parts store.

      Bettie Jones answered the door to let Chicago police officers in to help her upstairs neighbor, who had called 911 to resolve a domestic dispute.

      Philando Castile was driving home from dinner with his girlfriend.

      Botham Jean was eating ice cream in his living room in Dallas.

      Atatiana Jefferson was babysitting her nephew at home in Fort Worth, Texas.

      Eric Reason was pulling into a parking spot at a local chicken and fish shop.

      Dominique Clayton was sleeping in her bed.

      Breonna Taylor was also asleep in her bed.”

      And we all watched George Floyd being tortured and murdered. Are these examples good enough for you? It isn’t easy to find examples of racism if a person is a racist, as is so obvious from a couple of commenters in this thread. Say their names. Black Lives Matter.

  8. The world we live in today: nuance is lost. It appears it’s tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    • Augusta, I realze your heels are entirely dug in, but there is nothing nuanced about bigotry and systemic racism. Stop trying to spin what Jane Chittick has done. You’ve already admitted you support her white, bigoted privilege. When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Here’s another one for you: “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”

  9. I have always known that there were a lot of liberals on MV, but most of those commenting on this issue are well beyond “liberal.” For those who haven’t done any research or haven’t seen the violence, arson and looting in numerous locations across the country, BLM is a violent, Marxist organization, dedicated to the destruction of the United States government, its founding principles, the free enterprise system and the U.S. Constitution. Anyone who has voiced his/her support for this radical group is seriously twisted and is going to require a great deal of psychiatric counseling on November 4th.

  10. There are always a few irritable gadflies about any signage. You could post “Rescue Cute Kittens” and someone would claim it’s evidence of a radical socialist agenda allowing Islamic terrorists to stream in over the Southern border, dropping copies of The Quran in their wake. There’s the bigger issue of forcing a business to post signage according to the dictates of the emotional tempo of the public, fueled by social media barrages. That’s not encouraging. Ultimately, they should be free to post or remove whatever they want. Their business is banking and as long as they carry that out with competence, that’s enough. I’d respect a business that stated “We don’t use our windows for political statements, but we wish everyone well and support human dignity and equality.”

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