The Cincinnati Police Department is weighing in on a national and local 'lives matter' debate by posting a picture to their Facebook page that indicates all lives matter.
Set up with the title "From CPD......", the picture shows a white sergeant and an African-American sergeant holding up the palm of their hands with the words written in purple marker: "His life matters" and an arrow pointing at the other.
The Tuesday night posting has been "liked" more than 8,100 times, shared at least 4,526 times and drawn 235 comments, mostly positive.
"Stay safe, Gentlemen and Ladies," posted Jodi Tombragel. "We are grateful you are protecting us."
"Put this on billboards and bus stop signs with the caption 'All lives matter!!!!'" posted Nancy Marsh. "Bless all our officers and first responders and service men who serve and protect and come to our aid."
The two sergeants in the picture, James Perkins and Terrence Sherman, appeared Friday on FOX19 NOW Morning News.
They said the picture was snapped and posted in a spontaneous moment meant only for their Facebook friends. They never realized it would go viral.
"We were discussing basically the political climate of this country, the vibe that's created in this country and we decided to take a picture," Perkins said. "I think different people have different interpretations about what the picture means to them. I think it was basically a picture of solidarity of two friends that was intended for our Facebook family."
Other police across the country, including ones in Memphis, Tennessee, are posting similar pictures.
But Cincinnati police's Facebook photo humanizes police officers amid all this discussion. That is something often forgotten in today's broad and, at times, unfair generalizations of law enforcement, particularly in light of police-involved killings in Ferguson, Baltimore, North Charleston and the Sam DuBose shooting.
Friends for a decade, Perkins and Sherman previously worked together for the now-disbanded Lincoln Heights Police Department.
"We have a lot in common and we get along pretty good," Sherman said.
"I value his life, he values my life," Perkins said.
After the men appeared on FOX19 NOW, the police department posted another Facebook message about the 'lives matter' photo.
"This morning, Sgts James Perkins and Terrence Sherman were on @FOX19 to explain their "lives matter" photo originally posted a few days ago," the posting states. "The purpose was to share that "He values my life. I value his life," said Sgt. James Perkins pictured on the left. CPD recognizes that All Lives Matter."
The words they wrote on their hands are very real to each other and especially poignant after the June 19 brutal, ambush killing of Officer Sonny Kim, the first Cincinnati officer to die in the line of duty in 15 years.
And though Kim's death hit Cincinnati police hard, they are not missing a beat in protecting and serving their communities, the men stressed.
"It's business as usual," Sherman said. "It's something we are sworn to do and we try to do the best at that. We are people like they are, we have feelings, we have families that we like to go home to and none of us as coming to work thinking that anything tragic will happen."
Perkins added: "I would have to say that we aren't villains to the community. We are here to protect them. We are here to protect their property. We are just here to be at service to them and what's what we want them to know."
In recent years, police like Sherman and Perkins say they feel social media is at times the only way they can get the real story out about law enforcement.
"Police officers sometimes feel like we are the villain and we feel our only outlet is social media," Perkins said. "We want to get our message across we are not villains."
Black Lives Matter Cincinnati rallies were held here in recent weeks following the shooting death of DuBose, an unarmed black motorist stopped by a white University of Cincinnati police officer for not having a front license plate.
The officer, Ray Tensing, 25, shot DuBose in the head in a deliberate act of murder, according to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, and was indicted on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter. The traffic stop and shooting was captured on Tensing's body camera.
Nationally, the Black Lives Matter movement first emerged after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who is white, in the 2012 shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin. It became part of the national discussion on police brutality again last summer when a white Ferguson Police Officer Darren White shot and killed Michael Brown, who was black. There also is a hashtag #BlackLivesMatter
But a hashtag #AllLivesMatter also has developed and indicates fatal encounters between police and suspects doesn't always involve a white officer killing a black man or woman.
Critics of the #AllLivesMatter movement, however, dismiss it as an attempt to remove race from the police brutality discussion.
And not all of the those commenting on Cincinnati police's Facebook page agreed with their post.
However, not all of the commenters immediately agreed with the post.
"To ME this photo clearly says 'Police Lives Matter,' " Sonya E. Covington, wrote on their page. "Get out in the community, take photos with the minority, mentally ill, less fortunate, under-educated, the struggling, and so on and then say the same thing. #AllLivesMatter I'll wait ..."
Cincinnati police responded: " "Sonya, we are sorry that you view life through this filter. This picture was simply meant for everyone and to show that we hold value to all life equally. We are out in the community every day 24 hours a day."