San Francisco officers are banned from wearing “thin blue line” flag face masks after the department’s chief worried some may find the symbol “divisive and disrespectful,” numerous sources reported.
The thin blue line face masks were distributed by the police union and had a black-and-white American flag with a blue stripe across the middle. After officers wore the masks to patrol a May Day protest and angered some people, San Francisco Chief of Police William Scott decided the department would switch to only neutral face coverings, the Associated Press reported.
Scott said that while the thin blue line flag is “a meaningful expression to honor fallen officers,” he worried some people may find it “divisive and disrespectful,” according to KTVU.
The Department is working to make nondescript replacement masks available to replace the thin blue line masks, but the chief also expressed to officers that he “made clear” in public messaging what the symbol stands for. (RELATED: Protesters Desecrate Thin Blue Line Flag)
“The thin blue line was adopted more than three decades ago as symbolism for the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial. It was developed — and for most of us in law enforcement, remains — a meaningful expression to honor fallen police officers,” he wrote in an email sent to officers and shared with the Daily Caller.
— Evan Sernoffsky (@EvanSernoffsky) May 2, 2020
“Thin blue line” refers to the position police hold in society as the force which holds back chaos, and began as an allusion to the “thin red line,” which dates back to the Crimean War in the 19th century. The symbol has been widely understood as a show of solidarity with police officers, or in the case of the “thin red line,” firefighters.
In recent years, however, some have interpreted the “thin blue line” as a dismissive retort to the Black Lives Matter movement.
“In the midst of a global pandemic that has seen far too many first responders lose their lives, across the nation and around the world, it’s important to remember that the masks our officers wear were meant to honor all who make the ultimate sacrifice for the people we serve,” Scott added.