A Maryland police department can’t display a hand-crafted ‘thin blue line’ American flag. Here’s why

Kristin Lam


Published 10: 54 PM EST Nov 4, 2019

A father and son gave a hand-crafted wooden American flag with a thin blue line to Maryland police officers last month. It has renewed a debate that sparked following the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Police cannot publicly display the National First Responders Day gift, a Montgomery County official has ruled, saying the flag is divisive.

Siding with supporters who say the flag symbolizes law enforcement’s separation of order from chaos, Gov. Larry Hogan slammed the county’s display ban. 

“We are proud to hang these Thin Blue Line flags in Government House to honor our brave law enforcement officers,” Hogan tweeted Sunday. “A local elected official prohibiting police from displaying a flag given to them by a grateful child is disgraceful.” 

Germantown resident James Shelton and his son Forrest gave the flag to police officers last week, WUSA-TV reported, and also presented a flag to local firefighters. Montgomery County Police planned to display it in a station, the department said on social media. 

But County Executive Marc Elrich prevented them from doing so, according to a letter that police posted on social media, citing a commitment to improving police relations. 

Police misconduct: Search the list of more than 30,000 police officers banned by 44 states.

“The flag provides a symbol of support to some but it is a symbol of dismissiveness to others,” Elrich said in a note. “Because it is divisive, the flag will not be posted at the 5th District nor in any public space within the Police Department.”

White supremacists displayed the black-and-white American flag with a blue stripe in Charlotesville, prompting criticism against the flag’s supporters. Thin Blue Line USA later condemned the usage, saying it rejected associating the flag with racism.

See also  NFL draft 2020: Dolphins, Giants among teams with most at stake

Some social media users sided with the governor, saying the Elrich’s decision disrespects police officers who serve the public. Others noted the flag’s association with the Blue Lives Matter movement, which led Louisiana to give police officers protection under the state’s hate crime statute three years ago. 

Hogan has requested Elrich allow police to hang the flag, WUSA-TV reported, and apologize to the department. 

Contributing: Sean Rossman, USA TODAY

Read More

Leave a Reply