Controversy in Genesee County Over Flying the Thin Blue Line Flag
It's been a tough year when it comes to relationships between law enforcement and the community they serve.
As a mother of a officer, and the former wife of a State Trooper, the Thin Blue Line has be a staple of my life representing unity and support among the law enforcement family. The image has been something proudly displayed by our family for years, as it has for many for as long as I can remember.
Currently the image, more specifically a Thin Blue Line flag, is the center of controversy in Genesee County. A resolution was introduced by Genesee County Commissioner Shaun Shumaker to declare May "Police Appreciation Month" and fly "Thin Blue Line" flags outside county buildings, but the move has been met with a community divided.
Does The Flag Represent Hate?
Some members of both the community and the board feel the flag baring the image represents racism and white supremacy. Leading the opposition to the flag being displayed is president of Black Lives Matter Flint, DeWaun E. Robinson saying,
"It's more than a flag it represents a line of white supremacy, but also pushback to the Black Lives Matter movement and we can't stand for that".
Robinson posted to the Black Lives Matter Flint Facebook page encouraging residents to have their voices heard at the Board of Commissioner Meeting & Committees meeting held Wednesday night addressing the matter. Commissioner Bryant Nolden also weighed in on the subject saying,
“I’m in support of "Police Appreciation Month", because I do believe they are needed and do a wonderful job, but what I’m not in support of is the flying of this flag on our building".
Strong Feelings From Both Sides
But is this truly what the flag represents? Or, has the tensions with the actions of police officers, not the majority, involved in incidents such as the killing of George Floyd taken the symbol of honor and associated it with anger and hate? For those in law enforcement that has never been the case.
“I been in police work now 42 years, the term thin blue line has been in existence long as I can remember," Flushing Police Chief Mark Hoornstra told Mid-Michigan Now. "It distinguishes line between order and disorder, until now it's never been identified as a symbol of racism.”
The board voted 5 to 4 to send the resolution back to committee to the go to the Diversity and Equity Inclusion committee for a recommendation. With the committee not expected to meet until next Monday, some in favor of flying the flag feel the resolution will time out.
I have seen this flag at funerals of those who have been lost in the line of duty more times than I care to remember. I have seen the Thin Blue Line step up to aid the widow of a trooper who passed away unexpectedly when she needed it the most. And I have seen the bond it represents to those who proudly wear the badge and vow to protect and serve. Honoring these men and women by flying the flag would represent a chance to say thank you....and nothing more.
SEE MORE: 26 Moving Pictures From The Flint Protest