The Los Angeles Police Department is being harshly criticized after removing a “Thin Blue Line” flag from one of its stations after receiving a single complaint from a community member.
The flag was hung over the front desk of the Rampart police station, prompting one complaint claiming the flag represented extremist views. The blue line on the “Thin Blue Line Flag” is intended to represent law enforcement, standing between what is above the line, representing citizenry and order, from what is below the line, representing crime and anarchy.
The flag’s “display in our public lobbies can be divisive,” LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore stated.
“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 continued. “Flags serve as powerful symbols with specific meanings. The ‘Thin Blue Line Flag’ to me presents the honor, valor, dedication, and sacrifice of law enforcement to protect our communities. Tragically, that view is not universally held and others have been able to persuade the public it symbolizes racist, bigoted and oppressive values.”
“Given our lobbies should be places that people feel safe, free of political ideology, and welcoming, it remains our long-standing policy that only official items be displayed,” he concluded.
Founder of Blue Lives Matter NYC Joseph Imperatrice denounced the removal of the flag, saying, “When people make a complaint like that, they don’t like the cops on any given day, so we’ve got to take that into account. For [the] police chief to take it down, it kind of makes the other side think that there is actually something wrong with that flag, which it’s not. But then in the other breath to tell your police officers on the other side of this wall, you can hang it on your locker, on your vehicles. There’s nothing wrong with the flag.”
“What really bothers cops is that God forbid a police officer was killed in one of those jurisdictions today or tomorrow, I can guarantee you that not only flowers and candles would be placed there, but all different types of blue lines, whether it’s flags or stickers or cups, but it’s okay,” he continued. “It’s not alright. We need to stand up for our cops. We should’ve left it there.”
In May 2020, San Francisco police officers who were sent to patrol a protest against the city’s high price of housing wore masks emblazoned with the thin blue line flag. But then San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott sent an email to officers warning that although the “Thin Blue Line Flag” was “a meaningful expression to honor fallen officers,” others would find it “divisive and disrespectful.” He stated, “Thin Blue Line masks shall not be worn by our on-duty members.”
“That blue line is the only thing that’s separating the darkness and the chaos,” Imperatrice declared. “So every once in a while it is nice or would be nice, as an executive at a police department around the nation, just stood up and just explained it a little bit more because morale’s in the gutter. … It’s a hard retention rate, and we can’t recruit people, so why are people going to want to stay if their executives are not standing up for them?”