Community comments on Saugus High School decision on ‘Thin Blue Line’ flag

Saugus senior Jake Viger (10) carries the American flag, and senior Vinny Gallagher (33) carries the "Thin Blue Line" flag. Dan Watson/The Signal

After the Saugus High School administration’s decision was announced to stop its football team from carrying the “Thin Blue Line” flag, some attending the William S. Hart Union High School District board meeting Wednesday evening expressed disappointment and frustration with that decision, while others expressed support for it.  

“I’m upset at this decision,” said Karen Widman, a parent of students who will and who had attended Saugus High School. “The ‘Thin Blue Line’ flag is not a symbol of hate or divisiveness, any more than the ‘Thin Red Line’ flag, for firefighters.” 

“I implore you to change this decision because it’s hurting people. There are kids on campus that are proud of their family members, who are law enforcement.” 

According to Hart district officials, Saugus High School administration received complaints regarding the Thin Blue Line flag and asking for the immediate stop of its use on campus and at school events. In a letter to Saugus High School’s community, district Superintendent Mike Kuhlman said school staff discussed the issue with coach Jason Bornn and football players.  

Ultimately, the flag will not be carried by the football team at games, but Saugus High School staff will work with the football team to create other ways to honor and celebrate law enforcement.  

Jordan Dantzler, a Golden Valley High School student, said, “As someone of the African American community, there was a spike in the popularity of the Thin Blue Line flag after the Black Lives Matter protest in 2020.” 

She reiterated she supports law enforcement, but she thought the use of the flag could be seen as controversial. Dantzler agreed with another speaker who mentioned it could be a good idea to conduct a survey to better understand how the football team felt about carrying Thin Blue Line flag.  

More speakers spoke out against Saugus High School’s decision, and Hart district governing board members took a moment to address their constituents.  

“The flag in my humble opinion is no more political than a military flag or Vietnam veterans’ flag,” said Joe Messina, presiding officer of the board. “It has been co-opted by some. It has been now meant to be something negative and terrible.” 

Messina along with other members of his board said this could be a teachable moment. 

But he also personally believed that “it is a slap in the face for those who came running toward danger,” he added. 

Other board members said they will take into consideration the comments they heard Wednesday night and they look forward to working with Saugus High School’s community on this issue. 

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