Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Sunday blasted Montgomery County’s decision to ban the display of a homemade wooden “Thin Blue Line” flag, saying he was “offended and disgusted.”
“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,” said Mr. Hogan in a statement.
He urged Mr. Elrich to “immediately reverse this terrible decision and to apologize to the police and the citizens of Montgomery County.”
NEW: A woodworker and his young son (pictured) made this Blue Lives Matter flag and donated it to the 5D police station in Germantown, Md. for National First Responder Day.
Is the wooden flag racist or does it simply show support for law enforcement? That depends on who you ask. pic.twitter.com/vgQQ4cCBp1
— Kevin Lewis (@ABC7Kevin) November 2, 2019
The Republican governor weighed in after Mr. Elrich banned a police station from displaying the gift, also known as the Blue Lives Matter flag, calling it “divisive.”
“The flag provides a symbol of support to some but it is a symbol of dismissiveness to others,” said Mr. Elrich in a Friday statement. “Because it is divisive, the flag will not be posted at the 5th District nor in any public space within the Police Department.”
His ban reversed a decision by the Montgomery County Department of Police, which tweeted Wednesday a photo of woodworker James Shelton and his young son presenting the flag to officers at the Fifth District Station in Germantown.
“Thank you to resident James Shelton, who presented Montgomery County 5th District officers with a wooden American Flag that he had made in recognition of National First Responders Day,” said the department’s tweet. “The flag will be displayed in the 5th District Station.”
While the Blue Lives Matter flags are seen as a show of support for law enforcement, several jurisdictions have removed them after coming under criticism from leftists who view them as symbols of white supremacy and racism.
Mr. Hogan said that the same flag flies in Government House, the governor’s mansion in Annapolis, to honor fallen law-enforcement officers.
“To outlaw these American flags from being hung in county buildings by law enforcement officers is outrageous and unconscionable,” Mr. Hogan said.
Liberals see the flag differently.
“Black Lives Matter members have referred to the flag as a terrorist symbol, a new version of the Confederate flag and repackaged Nazi propaganda,” said Dawn Perlmutter, director of the Symbol Intelligence Group, in a July 15 article in Law Enforcement Today.
She added: “Copwatch chapters have burned the flag at protests and desecrated it in front of municipal buildings. ANTIFA designated the thin blue line flag a white supremacist fascist symbol.”
MORE: The father and son also donated a wooden flag to MoCo Fire Station 31 near Quince Orchard High School in North Potomac, Md.
Sources tell me that flag (with a red line) remains at the firehouse.
“Officers are livid about how this was all handled,” one veteran cop told me. pic.twitter.com/lWCj3l99il
— Kevin Lewis (@ABC7Kevin) November 2, 2019
The Blue Lives Matter flag, an American flag with a diagonal blue line instead of a red stripe, represents a variation on the Thin Blue Line flag, which shows a blue line against a black background, symbolizing the role of law enforcement as a barrier between anarchy and order.
“Blue Lives Matter flags are used by law enforcement officers as a symbol of service, sacrifice and solidarity,” Ms. Perlmutter said. “They are displayed in commemoration of officers killed in the line of duty and have become popular with the public to show their support for law enforcement and fallen officers.”
Mr. Elrich made no mention of specific complaints about the wooden flag, but said that he and acting police chief Marcus Jones “understand the concerns of the community.”
“Under my administration, we are committed to improving police relations with the community and will immediately address any action that stands against our mission,” said the Elrich statement.
Blue Lives Matter flags have been removed in recent years after complaints from public buildings in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Oregon, while a public employee settled a lawsuit in April for $100,000 after alleging she was harassed for objecting to a flag displayed at the office in Multnomah County, Oregon.
n July, protesters took down a Blue Lives Matter flag at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Aurora, Colorado, and defaced it with anti-ICE graffiti, before raising it upside-down next to a flag of Mexico.
The father and son also donated a wooden flag—this one with a red line-to a fire station in North Potomac, according ABC7 in Washington, D.C.
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