Loa Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore says extremists have hijacked the flag’s original meaning of supporting police as he order a ban on “Thin Blue Line” flags in law enforcement spaces, on the back of patrol cars, or on police officers’ uniforms.
Moore issued an internal memo that prohibits displaying the flag in station lobbies. A spokesperson for the department said the policy extends to LAPD officers’ uniforms and city-issued vehicles.
All images of the “Thin Blue Line” flag are to be removed and not visible anywhere on official Los Angeles Police Department personnel or property.
Some, including Moore, view the blue, white and black Thin Blue Line flag as an expression of support for police. Others see it as a symbol of white supremacy and far-right ideology.
The emblem has become a divisive one in American society, where more than 1100 citizens are killed by law enforcement officers each year, and those who view it as a symbol of support have become largely outnumbered by extremists who use police authority as an excuse for abuse or raise the banner it as a symbol of white supremacy and far-right ideology.
“It’s unfortunate that extremist groups have hijacked the use of the `Thin Blue Line Flag’ to symbolize their undemocratic, racist, and bigoted views,” Moore wrote in a department-wide email. “Flags serve as powerful symbols with specific meanings.”
Moore said he acted after a member of the public complained about a Thin Blue Line flag in the lobby at the headquarters of the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department, which serves communities to the west of Downtown Los Angeles.
While saying he believes the flag “presents the honor, valor, dedication, and sacrifice of law enforcement to protect our communities,” Moore said its public display “can be divisive,” because “others have been able to persuade the public it symbolizes racist, bigoted and oppressive values.”
The LAPD is facing scrutiny over a trio of use-of-force incidents involving officers that left three suspects dead in the first three days of the new year.
While the National Fraternal Order of Police reported that at least 62 officers who were shot died in the line of duty in 2022, law enforcement officers killed at least 1,176 people last year, the most killings in any year in the past decade.
According to Mapping Police Violence, there were only 12 days in 2022 when police didn’t kill someone.
The majority of those killings took place where no crime was alleged, or when police were called for things like nonviolent offenses or mental health checks.
Only 31 percent of the people killed by police were in a situation where a violent crime had allegedly taken place, while 32 percent were killed while fleeing — situations in which police potentially put the public in danger while pursuing their victim.
Black people are 7.2 times more likely to be killed by police than white people in New Jersey and 3.6 times more likely to be killed by police than white people in California.
Nationally, black people are three times more likely than white people to be killed by police in the US.
With the number rising to about 100 people a month, last year was the deadliest for police violence since researchers began recording the data in 2013, but in the time, police have always killed more than 1,000 people per year.
“The constitutional landscape that regulates these encounters defaults to the judgments of the reasonable police officer at the time of a civilian encounter based on the officer’s assessment of whether threats to their safety or the safety of others requires deadly force,” said a report from Jeffrey A. Fagan, of Columbia Law School, and Alexis D. Campbell, of Columbia Human Rights Law Review. “As many of these killings have begun to occur under similar circumstances, scholars have renewed a contentious debate on whether police disproportionately use deadly force against African Americans and other nonwhite civilians and whether such killings reflect racial bias.”
That study concluded: “Black (people) are more than twice as likely to be killed by police than are persons of other racial or ethnic groups; even when there are no other obvious circumstances during the encounter that would make the use of deadly force reasonable.”
“It struck me that they were wrapping themselves up in a flag which reflects respect for police while they were attacking, even killing police,” said Mount Pleasant, Michigan city commissioner Amy Perschbacher, who is also a mental health specialist, adding that she first saw the image she put on her page posted by someone else. “To me, they were using the (Blue Lives Matter) flag to cover up their hatred.”
Perschbacher, who is also a mental health specialist, said she was “disgusted” to see demonstrators at the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol carrying Confederate and Nazi flags along with Trump, U.S. and Blue Lives Matter flags, to explain why she posted an image on Facebook that depicted a Blue Lives Matter flag partially peeled back to reveal a Nazi flag.
“We reject, in the strongest possible terms, any association of our flag with racism, hatred, and bigotry,” said a statement from Thin Blue Line USA, following the banner’s display at the white nationalist event in Charlotte, Virginia. “To use it in such a way tarnishes what it and our nation believe in. The thin blue line flag stands for the sacrifice law enforcement officers of this nation make each day. We ask our nation to hold faith with those that defend the thin blue line.”
Following the failed coup d’etat on January 6th, 2021, Thin Blue Line issued another statement that said: “The violent protestors who held the Thin Blue Line Flag at the Capitol do not represent who we are. What is seen is a small number of extremists committed to lawlessness which is the exact opposite of what the Thin Blue Line represents.” “
While the manufacturers insist the Thin Blue Line Flag stands for the sacrifice law enforcement officers of this nation make each day and claim, “We reject in the strongest possible terms any association of the flag with racism, hatred, bigotry, and violence”. To use it ” there is no denying that it has been used in such a way that tarnishes everything it and our nation stands for.
“The events on January 6th, 2021 demonstrate how critical our law enforcement are in ensuring peace and order in society. Thank you to the U.S. Capitol Police for their dedication and commitment to upholding and embodying the true meaning of what it means to be a part of the Thin Blue Line, and thank you to all officers across the country who uphold and continue to embody the true meaning of the Thin Blue Line in the communities that they serve,” said the 2021 statement from Thin Blue Line USA, the company started making the flags in 2014.
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy for his role in the January 6th riot, but documents have been leaked that suggest members of the far-right anti-government militia group have been able to successfully infiltrate the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled them “extremists.”
The Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism discovered 370 law enforcement personnel—including police chiefs and sheriffs—and more than 100 current members of the military among more than 38,000 names on leaked Oath Keepers membership lists.