Earlier this month, Law Enforcement Today had reported on the cowering move made by public officials in Maryland in an effort to appease the population of people who are offended by the Thin Blue Line flag.
Democratic Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich had decided that the Thin Blue Line flag can’t be displayed on any county property; and his rationale behind that move was that he described the symbol as “divisive” and “dismissive” to people within the community. Well, that move prompted quite the reaction from locals within the community who are not offended by a symbol of support toward police.
Outside of Montgomery County’s fifth district police precinct, a group of people who supported law enforcement gathered and handed out Thin Blue Line flags in protest of the decision made by Elrich banning the flag from being displayed publicly in police stations in the Maryland county.
The organization, called Brothers Before Others, stood outside the precinct earlier in the week, handing out the stylized flag to people who were present at the demonstration. Rob O’Donnell, who is part of Brothers Before Others, commented on Elrich’s decision to not host the flag on county property.
“They want us to give up this flag and surrender it because they say it’s a bad thing. That’s not going to happen.”
Our Media Director was on @fox5dc this morning talking about the true meaning and history of the Blue Line Flag, and our event today in Montgomery County at noon. @GovLarryHogan pic.twitter.com/eI08Mfcmef
— BrothersBeforeOthers (@bboinc14) November 8, 2019
The series of events that led up to the group organizing the event had originally stemmed from a wooden forging of the Thin Blue Line flag that was donated to the police precinct. After a few angry online rantings on Twitter by people mislabeling the meaning of the flag, Elrich banned the public display of the wooden flag, which had been given as a gift by a father and son to the station on National First Responders Day.
Elrich expressed that he was troubled because the flag has been often used by Blue Lives Matter, which is often cited as a direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The idea that Blue Lives Matter was made in direct response to Black Lives Matter is just plain wrong for a few reasons: First, the message of Blue Lives Matter does not counter the Black Lives Matter movement whatsoever, they simply carry similar sentiments regarding segmented groups.
Secondly, for it to be a “direct” response, timing should be taken into consideration. Black Lives Matter came to be in July 2013 and Blue Lives Matter didn’t come along until December 2014 (18 months is a long time to “respond”).
Lastly, Blue Lives Matter came to fruition due to the murders of Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn, New York on December 20, 2014, which completely debunks that it was made in counter to Black Lives Matter.
According to O’Donnell, the assembly at the station was meant to show support for the department’s police officers. It is a chance for others to speak up about the decision regarding the flag, as police officers in the department cannot, he said.
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O’Donnell had also addressed the notion that somehow the flag is divisive or a symbol of hate.
“To say this was created to be anti any other movement, to say this is [a] white supremacist or divisive symbol is just outrageous. You know, five minutes of research would have proved otherwise.”
O’Donnell believes that Elrich was playing more politics rather than genuinely being appalled on other people’s behalf, as a Thin Red Line flag was given to the nearby fire department from the same family – a move which hasn’t sparked any wild controversy.
At a news conference on Monday, Elrich said that there are some in the community who are concerned about the levels of violence against black people around the nation and who take the Thin Blue Line flag as dismissive towards the messaging of Black Lives Matter.
That concept makes zero sense. It would be like saying that Breast Cancer Awareness is dismissive toward Prostate Cancer Awareness: two movements of awareness can coexist, especially when neither of them directly contradict each other.
I’m offended and disgusted that County Executive Marc Elrich has prohibited Montgomery County Police officers from displaying a “thin blue line” American flag that was made for them by a father & his young son in honor of National First Responders Day.https://t.co/d8bDTWLgXl
— Larry Hogan (@LarryHogan) November 3, 2019
Former Takoma Park police Chief Alan Goldberg, who was also a police officer in Montgomery County, stated, “It is just saying that the police are the thin blue line between chaos and order, and that’s what it has always stood for.”
Many in attendance disapproved of Elrich’s move and statement pertaining to the flag, among them Mike Gugulis of Gaithersburg who stated: “The police support everyone equally, so there’s no reason for him to be talking like he is; the man is nuts.”
Susie Brown-Butler, of Germantown, attended the event as well, proudly waving one of the flags that was distributed during the gathering. She was critical of Elrich’s motivation behind his recent decree, saying: “I think he’s just picking on the police department.”
According to O’Donnell, 100 iterations of the flag were handed out to police and community members in attendance.
The organization Brothers Before Others @odonnell_r handed out "thin blue line" flags in response to Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich's decision to ban a wooden version of the flag from public display. https://t.co/evkLSPWO2C
— National Police Association (@NatPoliceAssoc) November 9, 2019
It’s great to see people standing tall for what they believe in, even when our leadership seems spineless. If supporting police continues to be articulated as some kind of heinous act or idea, we’re pleased to see people demonstrating to set the record straight.
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