Euphoria star Sydney Sweeney has addressed online backlash to a series of photos and videos from her mother’s 60th birthday party, which the actress posted to her Instagram on Saturday.
Among the photos the Emmy-nominated talent published is an image featuring an unidentified man wearing a shirt featuring a flag with a thin blue line, to some a symbol of the pro-police countermovement created in response to Black Lives Matter.
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The photos, which were snapped at a hoedown-themed birthday party for Sweeney’s mother, were captioned, “No better way to celebrate my momma than a surprise hoedown.” The actress also shared photos of the event, featuring line dancing and a rodeo-themed cake, on her Instagram story.
After posting the photos and videos early on Saturday, social media users began to speculate about Sweeney and her family’s politics and Sweeney’s position on the Blue Lives Matter movement in light of the unnamed individual seen in the shirt.
“You guys this is wild. An innocent celebration for my moms milestone 60th birthday has turned into an absurd political statement, which was not the intention,” she tweeted in response to the criticism of her photos, which got her name trending on Twitter Saturday. “Please stop making assumptions.”
You guys this is wild. An innocent celebration for my moms milestone 60th birthday has turned into an absurd political statement, which was not the intention. Please stop making assumptions. Much love to everyone ♥️ and Happy Birthday Mom!
— Sydney Sweeney (@sydney_sweeney) August 27, 2022
Additional criticisms surfaced after social media users found that photos posted by one of Sweeney’s family members from the event included people wearing “Make 60 Great Again” hats — a reference to Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.”
In an Aug. 2 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Sweeney spoke about the impact her family has had on her career while discussing a clip of her sharing her Emmy nomination news with her mother.
“I wouldn’t have been able to pursue my dreams without her supporting that decision,” she said. “I was 12, 13 years old and my mom and dad gave up everything that they knew for me to be able to pursue my dreams. We lost friends, we lost our house, we lost everything in pursuit of it.”
At the height of the racial justice and Black Lives Matter protests during the summer of 2020, Sweeney shared her support for the movement, like a number of Hollywood figures, via her social media. “[W]e need to do better. the hate in this world needs to end. #BlackLivesMatter,” she tweeted.
Black Lives Matter is a decentralized political and social movement started in 2013 after the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, a Black teen, that addresses systemic racism and police brutality against Black people. The Blue Lives Matter movement was formed in response to BLM and advocates for officers and other emergency personnel to be a protected class, with the potential for individuals to be prosecuted for hate crimes in cases where they are convicted of killing law enforcement.
The ACLU of New York has condemned Blue Lives Matter bills proposed by conservative politicians across the country, describing them as “a profoundly inappropriate attempt to equate a voluntarily chosen career path with the immutable traits that give rise to protection under our civil rights laws.” The legal advocacy organization has also said they “undermine efforts to improve police-community relations while doing nothing to improve safety for officers.”
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