CAMBRIDGE (CBS) — The Cambridge City Council voted unanimously Monday night to both support and co-sponsor a state effort to reevaluate the state seal and motto.
The bill would create a legislative Commission to discuss possible changes to the state seal and motto.
The seal, first adopted in the late 1700s, depicts a Native American of the Algonquin nation standing with a bow and arrow pointed to the ground. Above him is an arm holding a sword pointed down at him, and underneath on blue ribbon are the words “Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem,” meaning, “By the word we seek peace, but peace only liberty.”
It’s the visual of the sword seemingly aiming at the man that Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern said was brought to his attention as offensive. “That symbol does not represent the best of what Massachusetts has to offer, and we should change it,” he told WBZ.
The issue was brought up at the Cambridge City Council meeting on Monday night, and councilors ultimately voted unanimously to support the state bill, also adding their names as sponsors.
They also took the state seal discussion a step further, noting that they didn’t want the flag in the city council chambers.
Mayor McGovern told WBZ he is speaking with state officials to find out if he can legally remove the flag from City Hall, and if he gets approval, he says he plans to do so as soon as possible.
McGovern knows his city’s vote is met with mixed reaction. He told WBZ most of the response from Cambridge residents has been positive, but he has received some negative emails from people in other towns.
“I’m not trying to erase history,” McGovern said. “I want us to remember how this country was founded, and some of it’s not pretty…and we have to change some of our symbols that support that history.”
The bill in the state legislature is currently on hold, waiting for a hearing to be scheduled by the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.