In Germantown, Maryland, a wooden replica of the “thin blue line” flag was donated to the police station by a father and his young son. The gift was in honor of First Responders Day, and some have responded with horror.
If you’re unfamiliar with the flag, here’s a bit of backstory from the web:
The “Thin blue line” is a phrase that refers figuratively to the position of police in society as the force which holds back chaos, allowing order and civilization to thrive.
A tweeted photo of the flag was posted to Twitter as a thank you to the family that made it, and, well, cue the outrage and fear.
Thank you to resident James Shelton, who presented Montgomery County 5th District officers with a wooden American Flag that he had made in recognition of National First Responders Day. The flag will be displayed in the 5th District Station. pic.twitter.com/kbAI32xHkY
— Montgomery County Department of Police (@mcpnews) October 30, 2019
The dad in the picture — James Shelton — bears a tattoo on his forearm.
So…here we go.
One user wrote, “Is this man wearing a Hammerskins shirt along with a matching tattoo? If so, would urge the Montgomery County police to consult the Anti-Defamation League’s database and decide whether hanging an object made by this person comports with department values.”
Is this man wearing a Hammerskins shirt along with a matching tattoo? If so, would urge the Montgomery County police to consult the Anti-Defamation League's database and decide whether hanging an object made by this person comports with department values. https://t.co/WK8u5Dgv32
— Surely povich Jr (@Surelypovichjr) October 30, 2019
The department attempted an explanation:
“Let’s take a breath here people. The shirt and tattoo are of Mr. Shelton’s business, Shelton Woodworks. We are appreciative of Mr. Shelton’s flag and it represents support for police officers and first responders everywhere.”
And…more racism, racism, racism:
The Blue Lives Matter flag & movement were created in response to the Black Lives Matter mvmt. The primary purpose isn’t to honor cops; it‘s to demean & diminish the Black Lives Matter mvmt—illogically, as being a cop is a choice & being Black is not.
It’s racist. Take it down.
— Kristin Mink #ImpeachTrump #ImpeachKavanaugh (@KristinMinkDC) October 31, 2019
This flag, the symbol of "Blue Lives Matter," excuses police violence against black residents, and mocks those who affirm that #BlackLivesMatter. That is not what @MontgomeryCoMD stands for. Take down this tweet, and do not hang up that flag! @DavidMoon2014 @JheanelleW @mbsocol
— (((Joelle Novey))) (@Jo_GNDC) October 30, 2019
This is unacceptable. This flag was carried by the white supremacists in Charlottesville and has a meaning far beyond what you intend. (I hope!) Please do not raise this in a public building.
— Katie (@katiestauss) October 30, 2019
No disrespect to the citizens who were trying to show appreciation for their local police, but Blue Lives Matter is a racist response to Black Lives Matter and DOES NOT belong in a county facility. Take it down!
— MonicaGoldberg (@MonicaGoldberg) October 31, 2019
that's not an America flag btw, it's white supremacy symbol
— chirping bird (@ChrpngBrd) October 31, 2019
And the fear:
thats a blue lives matter flag. its racist and dangerous. take it down NOW.
— kristi koumentakos (@kpk63) October 31, 2019
I deeply respect our police and am thankful for their work, keeping us safe. This flag, however, is a known hate symbol and scares me. Please see Wikipedia and the Blue Lives Matter website if you doubt this. I look forward to seeing this situation rectified ASAP.
— davidchoy (@davidchoy) October 31, 2019
One tweeter’s afraid to call the cops because they might hurt black people in the neighborhood. And the photo is a great example of why:
this picture is a perfect example of why i am afraid to call the police in an emergency because i'm afraid you'll hurt black people in my neighborhood. i have no idea what you think you're doing, but what you're actually doing is intimidating residents. stop it.
— Max Socol (@mbsocol) October 30, 2019
As a result of the outrage, Democratic County Executive Marc Elrich ordered the flag’s immediate removal.
He issued the following statement:
“The flag provides a symbol of support to some but it is a symbol of dismissiveness to others. Because it is divisive, the flag will not be posted at the 5th District nor in any public space within the Police Department.”
"The flag provides a symbol of support to some but it is a symbol of dismissiveness to others. Because it is divisive, the flag will not be posted at the 5th District nor in any public space within the Police Department."
— Montgomery County Department of Police (@mcpnews) November 2, 2019
The Montgomery County Department of Police has changed its mind about displaying a wooden "thin blue line" American flag gifted to them by a little boy. https://t.co/ARH5beFIev
— fox8news (@fox8news) November 4, 2019
The governor’s not happy about it.
Republican Larry Hogan released his own statement about the dustup:
“I’m offended and disgusted that County Executive Marc Elrich has arbitrarily prohibited Montgomery County Police officers from displaying a ‘thin blue line’ American flag that was made for them by a father and his young son in honor of National First Responders Day.”
We are proud to hang these Thin Blue Line flags in Government House to honor our brave law enforcement officers. A local elected official prohibiting police from displaying a flag given to them by a grateful child is disgraceful. pic.twitter.com/PmPGzfSSF1
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) November 3, 2019
And the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 chimed in:
“We condemn this arbitrary, political action and are especially disappointed that (Acting Police Chief) Marcus Jones does not demonstrate appreciation and understanding of the concerns of working police officers. The working police officers of Montgomery County are highly offended by this act of outright disrespect for them and that flag which represents the sacrifices and dedication of police officers who daily risk their lives, health, limbs and own well-being in service to their community.”
As per WUSA-TV, Governor Hogan’s requested that Marc Elrich allow the flag to be hung, and that he apologize to the department.
Is a wooden flag really worth all the horror? It seems to me that a man and his little boy simply wanted to honor police officers for their service to the community.
But we can’t have nice things, it would appear, because everything is offensive.
Sometimes I see what people are raging about online, and I’m envious: I wish I had that kind of free time. It must be incredible.
I hope they’re sitting on the beach with a Rolex Platinum Diamond Pearlmaster, sipping an umbrella’d drink provided by their butler. And as they realize they have 7 more hours of nothing to do ’til they get in the jacuzzi, they decide to express indignation over something they saw on Twitter.
Otherwise, we have a very big problem.
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