Despite misleading reports, the Thin Blue Line flag doesn’t have a long tradition at Saugus High School football games – it was first taken on the field on Aug. 26 of this year, leading to parents raising concerns.
When the school announced that the flag will no longer be allowed on the field during games, some members of the community responded with outrage, claiming the flag represents support for our local law enforcement. But the truth is that for many in the Black community, the flag has been, and continues to be, a symbol of division and hatred.
The term “thin blue line” became popular in the 1950s by L.A. police Chief Bill Parker, known for introducing police reforms that targeted minority communities, making blatantly racist statements, and for promoting the militarization of the police force. He spread the term throughout the department, fostering an “us versus them” mentality within the force.
In 2013, the Black Lives Matter movement began, leading to nationwide protests against police violence surrounding the killings of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and Michael Brown. In 2014, the Blue Lives Matter countermovement was formed in the wake of these protests. That same year, the Thin Blue Line flag was popularized by a white affluent suburban college student in Detroit, who found the protests to be “distasteful.” The flag has since gained popularity with far-right hate groups around the country and has regularly shown up alongside Confederate flags at racist rallies such as Charlottesville, as well as the Jan. 6 attack on the capitol.
The Thin Blue Line flag and the Blue Lives Matter movement have always been linked – they represent direct opposition to those demanding justice for Black people. They are intentionally exclusionary and are used to instill fear in minority communities, further widening the gap of our humanity.
It is our stance that the “thin blue line flag” has no place on school campuses that are designed to be a safe space for all students.
It is our stance that no student should fear retaliation or intimidation by forced participation in, or exposure to, symbols of division.
It is our stance that “Thin Blue Line” clothing and flags have no place in the stands or on school property during school activities.
If you wish to show support for law enforcement, use symbols that aren’t associated with injustice, hatred and divisiveness.
President, NAACP Santa Clarita