The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has banned the Thin Blue Line flag from public areas within police departments this week over a complaint that the flag represents ‘violent, extremist views.’
The ‘thin blue line’ typically refers to the concept of the police as the line which keeps society from descending into violent chaos and has been used by the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ movement which began in December 2014 after the homicide of two New York Police Department (NYPD) officers.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore defended the move to ban the flag to Fox News and said that the flag had been adopted by extremist groups who he said are ‘undemocratic, racist and [have] bigoted views.’
While the flag is banned from public display Moore said that officers can still display it at their workspace, locker door or personal vehicle.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has banned the Thin Blue Line flag from public areas within police departments over a complaint that the flag represents ‘violent, extremist views.’ LAPD Chief Michel Moore defended the move
The ‘thin blue line’ typically refers to the concept of the police as the line which keeps society from descending into violent chaos and has been used by the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ movement which began in December 2014
‘We received a community complaint of the presence of a Blue Line Flag [with] the view that it symbolized support for violent extremist views, such as those represented by the Proud Boys and others,’ he said in an email to the outlet.
‘I directed to have the item taken down from the public lobby. The U.S. flag should be proudly displayed in our lobbies whenever possible. Memorials for our fallen are also authorized in all public spaces.’
Moore said he viewed the flag as symbolizing ‘the honor, valor, dedication, and sacrifice of law enforcement to protect our communities’ but added that overtime it has been undermined with ‘racist, bigoted and oppressive values.’
‘It’s unfortunate that extremist groups have hijacked the use of the ‘Thin Blue Line flag’ to symbolize their undemocratic, racist, and bigoted views,’ he said.
Station lobbies should be places where citizens feel welcome and safe and ‘free of political ideology,’ he continued.
The Board of directors for the Los Angeles Police Protective League, a union representing police officers in the county, slammed the move in a statement calling it ‘political pandering.’
‘It is difficult to express the level of utter disgust and disappointment with Chief Moore’s politically pandering directive to remove Thin Blue Line flags and memorials for fallen officers from all public areas within our police stations,’ they said.
‘This direction came as a result of complaints from anti-police, criminal apologists, and activists who hold too much sway over our city leaders and, unfortunately, our Chief.’
Moore said the LAPD received a community complaint of the presence of a Blue Line Flag with the view that it ‘symbolized support for violent extremist views, such as those represented by the Proud Boys (pictured) and others’
Large groups of Proud Boys joined tens of thousands of Trump supporters in Washington to rally and march to declare the 2020 Presidential election results a fraud a Nov 14, 2020
The union said they ‘vehemently’ opposed ‘this disrespectful and defeatist kowtowing by our department leadership to groups that praise the killing of police officers and outright call for violence against those of us in uniform. We have directly expressed our outrage to the Chief.’
The group, which represents more than 9,900 members of the LAPD, disagreed with the chief’s sentiment that the flag was divisive arguing that it was a ‘symbol of unity.’
‘Let’s all remember what the Thin Blue Line flag is and what it represents: The Thin Blue Line flag features a black and white image of the American flag with the horizontal stripe beneath the field of white stars on the black background,’ they said.
‘The stars represent the citizenry who stand for justice and order. The darkness represents chaos and anarchy, and to many, a memorial to the law enforcement officers who have perished in the line of duty.’
In a post to Facebook, the group said they had no plans to stop displaying the flag.
‘We will display it proudly and will not let anyone distort the true meaning,’ the post read.
‘The imagery of American policing has come to be represented by the thin blue line. A flag created around that theme is black and white with a blue line as the center horizontal strip.
‘The blue line represents the men and women of law enforcement who stand in the gap between the lawless and the innocent.’
In Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, a similar step was taken by the Springfield township board, who voted 5-2 to ban the Thin Blue Line from township employees or property.
The black and white flag with a Thin Blue Line is seen on the Police Benevolent Association logo. The decision to ban the symbol came after nearly two years of controversy and debate over the issue.
The issue arose in 2021 when a flag with the pro-police symbol upset some residents.
Commissioner Eddie Graham argued that the flag was comparable to the Confederate flag for African Americans.
‘When you wave this flag, it is just like for African Americans the waving of a Confederate flag,’ he said.
Ultimately the board members voted to ban the symbol, arguing it was divisive which spurred an uproar from the community.
Moore said he viewed the flag as symbolizing ‘the honor, valor, dedication, and sacrifice of law enforcement to protect our communities’ but added that overtime it has been undermined with ‘racist, bigoted and oppressive values’
While the flag, seen here at a Blue Lives Matter protest in New York in 2020, is banned from public display Moore said that officers can still display it at their workspace, locker door or personal vehicle
John English told the Delaware Valley Journal that when his family put up a blue heart with the Thin Blue Line in their window after an officer was killed, his family was targeted.
‘My family is looked upon as white supremacists. To use that term so loosely in this society is disgusting. It’s vile. These are the vilest people on earth and this is what you’re comparing people to,’ he told the board.
Police officers argued that the board didn’t understand what the symbol meant to them.
‘Unless you’ve stood in the shoes of a police officer, you really don’t know what we do,’ one officer said.
‘Nobody goes to work wanting to kill anybody,’ he said before describing a Black Lives Matter protests from 2020 where he said he had ‘rocks and bottles’ thrown at him.
‘You are asserting every time you see the Thin Blue Line flag that person is a racist. That doesn’t make it racist,’ he said. Black Lives Matter is an activist movement formed in 2013 that campaigns against violence and systemic racism toward black people.
One board member said his vote was ‘not in any way’ meant to disrespect police officers but hoped the ban would ‘remove the stigma’ of those opposed to Black Lives Matter.
Springfield Township manager Michael Taylor told Fox News that ‘the resolution that was adopted by the Board of Commissioners of Springfield Township prohibits the display of what is actually the ‘Blue Lives Matter Flag’ on the uniforms of Township employees or that symbol being affixed or installed on Township Property.’
The Board of directors for the Los Angeles Police Protective League, a union representing police officers in the county, slammed the LAPD’s move in a statement calling it ‘political pandering’
In a post to Facebook, the Los Angeles Police Protective League said they had no plans to stop displaying the flag
‘The Resolution does not prohibit the use of the flag or symbol by the Police Benevolent Association (PBA).’
Taylor said that the black and white American flag with thin blue line is relatively new and ‘while intended to support police departments everywhere, it has been co-opted by extremist groups and used to counter the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement.’
The township ‘asked the PBA to consider using the original Thin Blue Line flag instead. The PBA declined.
‘The resolution is simply the Township’s attempt to disassociate itself from a symbol which many of our residents find divisive,’ said Taylor.
‘The Township remains strongly in support of its Police Department and all of the citizens of Springfield Township.
In April 2019, an Oregon county agreed to pay $100,000 to a black employee who sued alleging she was harassed after asking that a Blue Lives Matter flag not be displayed in the office.
Karimah Guion-Pledgure said in her January lawsuit against Multnomah County that the flag demeans the Black Lives Matter movement, The Oregonian reported.
She said she was harassed by others in the office after she and other black co-workers complained, and notes on a photo wall of minorities killed by cops that she erected in response, included ‘thanks a lot’ and ‘bitch’.
Guion-Pledgure’s lawsuit said the Blue Lives Matter movement ‘co-opts’ the Black Lives Matter movement and ‘repurposes it to shift focus to law enforcement — a chosen profession, not a racial identity — and thus denigrates, dilutes, and demeans the purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement.’