Update: Family of fallen officer forced to remove Thin Blue Line flag – “It’s racist”


Last Friday, Law Enforcement Today reported about the family of a Maine police officer killed in the line of duty who had come under fire over displaying a Thin Blue Line Flag to mark the anniversary of his death.

Today, that family says they’ve been forced to take it down.

Trooper Charles Black was shot and killed during a bank robbery in 1964.

His son, who is also named Charlie Black, put up the Thin Blue Line flag on a utility pole near his home.  It lead to area residents flipping out about an “offensive symbol” on public property.

The town manager of York, Maine said it started when a person walked into his office to complain.

“A resident came in and said there’s a problem,” Town Manager Steve Burns said.  

The resident said:

“This is a flag that represents segregation and discrimination.”

Burn could have just laughed it off.  He didn’t.  He instead called the family.  Why?  Who knows.  He seems surprised that the widow took the news hard.

“This is just ripping a wound in her heart,” Burn said.” It was pure instant emotion for her and her whole family.”

The mother requested that her son take down the flag after all of the pushback from the town.

Now her son is beyond angry that the tribute to his father had gotten mired in a politically-charged debate.

“This is not a racist white supremacist symbol, and I’m angry it’s portrayed that way,” Charlie Black said.


The trooper’s widow happens to be the former York selectman, Mary Black Andrews.  She said the last thing she wanted was to stoke divisions.

“God forbid we should offend anyone,” she said. “It bothers me tremendously. It’s the anniversary of his death. He gave his life to protect the public, and I gave my life to this town, and we can’t even celebrate this person. I’m sorry I offended them. It’s coming down and it won’t happen again.”

Here’s the back story on the trooper who was killed.

It happened on July 9, 1964 in York, Maine.

State Trooper Charlie Clinton Black readied himself for a day of testimony in court in nearby Berwick.

Trooper Charles Clinton Black
Trooper Charles Clinton Black

The trooper was 28-years-old, a veteran of the United States Air Force and had already given 6 years of service to the Maine State Police. He said his morning farewells to his two small boys and his 27 year old wife Mary who was 9 months pregnant with their third child.

Trooper Black drove his cruiser away from his family, never to come home again.

Seacoastonline reports that Trooper Black spent his morning at the courthouse but took a break outside on the front steps. On the other side of the building, two men piled out of a Buick and ran into the First National Bank.

The men wore masks, dark coveralls and large hats. A bystander by the name of Walter Buckley ran to the young Trooper yelling that the bank was being robbed. Without hesitation, Trooper Black darted in the direction of the bank.

Trooper Black ran right into the robbers as they fled the bank, bags of cash in their arms. As the officer was mid-draw of his service weapon, the first shot was fired. Black fell to the ground, killed instantly.

Walter Buckley, who followed behind Black, managed to grab the trooper’s gun and hold one criminal in place. However, the thief who shot Black escaped, Seacoastonline reports.

Back in York, a neighbor ran to the Black home, telling his wife Mary only that there had been an accident. Mary was shocked as Charlie was due in court, not on patrol. She tuned in to the police scanner for news. She recalls:

“I heard it on the radio. That’s how I was notified.”

The man who murdered Trooper Black was eventually apprehended. He had escaped from a prison in New Jersey only seven days prior, according to Seacoastonline. He was sentenced to life in prison… but was released after only 7.

Black’s widow, only 27 years old in 1964 with three babies under 6, became a shining light for police families in Maine. She helped in the passage of a bill providing assistance to families left behind. Eventually, she became a Maine state legislator serving her constituents and survivors.

Up until this controversy, Mary Black Andrews flew that Thin Blue Line Flag in memory of her young husband who courageously served, running into the conflict when many would have run away. The flag is a sign of support not only for the men and women who serve today, but have sacrificed through the years, billowing from the same home that Trooper Black drove away from 55 years ago this month.

The York Diversity Forum sought a meeting with Burns as the organization feels the flag can be interpreted as racist. Residents feel that the flag is a symbol used by white supremicists.

Susan Kepner, president of the Form, said that white nationalists used the Thin Blue Line flag as one of their symbols in the Charlottesville rally that turned deadly… and so that somehow makes the flag racist.

“It looks just like an American flag but it’s black and white,” Kepner told News Center Maine. “We were concerned about the message that sends. We get along well with the Police Department, and we honor fallen heroes as well as anyone else. We would just like positive messages out there.”

She claims the problem is the public property.

“If people want to hang the flag on their private property, that’s their right. But it could be a can of worms if we allow flags all over town on those brackets.”

But here’s the thing.  According to York Police Chief Charles Szeniawski, the town doesn’t have a policy about placing flags in places other than private residences.

“There is no policy about flags. Can anyone put anything up there? I don’t know. Maybe it’s something we should look at.”

He says people are twisting the meaning of the flag.

“It’s how people interpret it,” he said. “For most officers that’s the Thin Blue Line flag. Just because you’re an officer doesn’t allow you to do anything you want. You can’t cross that line. That’s what it means to most of us.”

In turn, Burns said to WGME that the implication of a racial bias behind the flag is out of line saying:

“It pains me what she is going through emotionally with this issue.”

May we all pay our respects to Trooper Charlie Clinton Black, end of watch July 9, 1964, and wave our flags proudly in his honor.

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Back in February, after a week of debate over a handmade Thin Blue Line Flag that was removed from the Officer Down Memorial Tunnel in Hartford, Connecticut by Democrats, the flag was been returned to its home.

The flag quietly was put back up… despite earlier suggestions to high level lawmakers in Connecticut that the lawmakers who had it removed would be formally apologizing.

They did not.  There was no apology.  No press conference.  Just a flag quietly put back up… just as it had been removed.

“They had no idea the amount of backlash they’d receive from the Blue family and their supporters.”

That was the message from a Connecticut lawmaker who spoke to Law Enforcement Today (LET) on the condition of anonymity yesterday.

“I was glad to hear the news that the Connecticut Democrats reversed course and decided to do the right thing,” said J.R. Romano, Chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party.  “This flag is representative of those who hold the line between good and evil and is a reminder of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to hold that line no matter their color, race or creed.”

The officer makes wooden Thin Blue Line flags in honor of the men and women who protect and serve our communities. When he donated a handmade flag to the State Capitol Police Department (SCPD), a group of officers got the proper permissions to get the flag mounted at the Connecticut State Capitol building in honor of the Officer Down Memorial Tunnel.

Update: Family of fallen officer forced to remove Thin Blue Line flag - "It's racist"

The flag had been hung for about a month. This week, a number of Black & Puerto Rican Caucus members reportedly got together and lodged a formal complaint to their legislative leaders, asking the Executive Director to have it taken down.

And he did.

Without any explanation to the officers who donated it, without any transparency to the public, the flag was suddenly removed and placed in a storage closet, waiting to be returned to the man who created it.

Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) immediately offered the department a more prominent and appropriate home for the flag, suggesting it go on display in a national memorial courtyard at their headquarters.  The mission of C.O.P.S. is to rebuild shattered lives of survivors and co-workers affected by line-of-duty deaths.  They have chapters in every state, including Connecticut.

“The thin blue line flag represents the law enforcement professionals who are willing to sacrifice everything for the good of ALL of the citizens of this country,” said Dianne Bernhard, Executive Director of C.O.P.S.  

“The thin line between peace and chaos in our society is made up of the men and women who choose to potentially sacrifice everything for the common good of us all.  Individuals who choose to become law enforcement officers come from every ethnic, racial and socio-economic background.  If you look at the profiles of the officers who have died in the line of duty, you will see diversity, much like the make-up of this great country.  But more importantly, these fallen officers represent a common resolve across all of our differences to preserve the integrity of our nation’s laws and the safety of all who call America home.”

Bernhard goes on to say that the thin blue flag represents the collective pride and resolve of the law enforcement community to honor ALL of those who are currently our nation’s protectors and those who have fallen in our collective quest for good to prevail. 

“C.O.P.S. doesn’t see our fallen officers by the color of their skin, but instead C.O.P.S. sees our fallen officers by the honor and reverence they deserve–as our nation’s heroes.”  

Update: Family of fallen officer forced to remove Thin Blue Line flag - "It's racist"
The flag was hung in the Capitol building to honor officers who were killed in the line of duty.

The officer who made the flag was set for Thursday morning to present the flag on Fox & Friends to the surviving spouse of an officer killed in the line of duty.  She was going to receive the flag on behalf of C.O.P.S. until the word came in that the flag would once again be going back up.

OFC Scott Driscoll, the Public Information Officer from the Connecticut State Capitol Police, issued the following statement earlier in the day:

“The Connecticut State Capitol Police Department submitted a request to fly a thin blue line flag in the Legislative Office Building/Capitol Building concourse; this area is set up as a law enforcement memorial.  The request to display this flag was to remember those officers who died in the line of duty and their families.  The request was approved by Legislative Management and was hung.  On February 20, 2019 the flag was removed.  Any further questions about its removal should be directed to Legislative Management.”

Those who complained over the flag being displayed in the Capitol claimed that the symbolism behind the flag represents an opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“In the context of history behind it a lot of my members expressed a lot of concerns especially in this building,” said Rep. Brandon McGee, (D) chairman of the Black & Puerto Rican Caucus.

“We are not anti- you know – police; we support our men in blue but we also know that given the history around black people, people of color with respect to this particular issue. I just think it was necessary to share our concerns with our leadership,” McGee finished.

Earlier in the day, Romano was one of many representatives who expressed how disturbed they were.

“It’s incredibly disappointing to not understand that this flag is meant to honor police officers that were killed in the line of duty. And it’s extremely disrespectful to the families of those officers that this flag was removed,” he said.

Update: Family of fallen officer forced to remove Thin Blue Line flag - "It's racist"

To add insult to injury, the spot where the flag hung was specifically reserved for a police memorial.

So because a flag… an American flag, has triggered certain people, officers who have given their lives in the line of duty are no longer honored in the Capitol building.

If you remember from last year, a Connecticut Democrat by the name of Minnie Gonzalez found herself in the media spotlight after trashing police officers in a legislative hearing over a police accountability bill.

“This bill is to hold accountable and to stop those cowboys that, because they got a bat and a gun, they think they can go shooting especially young kids in our community.  This is not the Wild Wild West.  And no consequences.  Those cowboys doesn’t belong in the police department.  This abuse has got to stop.”

These are the same out-of-touch politicians that are furthering the divide between the public and police, all while making it seem like they’re fighting for the common man.

In an article Wednesday morning, NBC 30 Connecticut News called the flag ‘controversial artwork.’


Naked statues are controversial artwork.

An American flag honoring and supporting the men and women who go to war for us every day is not ‘controversial.’

Our stars and stripes are not ‘controversial.’

The meaning of the unity behind the stars is not ‘controversial.’

This removal is not only sad; it’s what the President of the CT Fraternal Order of Police called a direct attack on officers around the country. It’s our elected government leaders saying: we don’t care about police.

And it’s not just here. Recently we’ve seen a giant rise in cities across America offering sanctuary to illegal immigrants, refusing to have their officers comply with members of ICE. We’ve seen judges releasing hardened criminals back onto the streets. We’ve seen governors pardoning murderers and convicted felons.

To our politicians: what is happening to the sense of right and wrong in our country?

When is the false narrative that police are racist killers targeting unarmed black men going to be publicly addressed and corrected? (Here’s the proof…)

If we don’t speak up about the way officers are being treated now… what will our future look like?

We’re not staying silent.  Are you with us?

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