A flag flown in support of law enforcement at Bloomington City Hall this month was an insult to residents and a tone-deaf gesture in a year dominated by talk of the need for police reform, a group of activists said Thursday.

The “Thin Blue Line” flag was raised for one week starting May 16 in recognition of National Police Week, a move Mayor Tim Busse shouldn’t have taken, said Tahm Loyd, a member of the Bloomington Antiracist Coalition.

“If your constituents are telling you and the council that the flag is racist, offensive and openly hostile, why did you even consider flying it in the first place?” Loyd said at a news conference Thursday morning alongside community members and activists including Civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong, CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein and NAACP Minnesota President Angela Rose Myers.

Hussein asked Busse to apologize, and for the Bloomington City Council to pass a resolution banning the flying of the flag in the future.

Busse, in a video posted to Facebook, said he heard from people who were upset about the flag’s appearance at Civic Plaza, the complex that includes City Hall. Busse added that he understands some people view the flag as a racist and divisive symbol. The city has raised the flag over Civic Plaza for the past three years to commemorate National Police Week, and the police department requested it again this year in an “honorable” request, Busse said.

“I don’t believe for one second that there was a racist or threatening or insulting intent,” he said.

The debate in Bloomington joins others across the state and nationwide over the appearance and meaning of the police flag. Law enforcement leaders in some communities have defended the symbol, while others have said that its original meaning has been co-opted by racists and insurrectionists and that it should no longer be flown.

Busse said in his video that he would have a community discussion before agreeing to raise the flag again if the police department requests it next year.


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