The mayor of Orono, Minnesota, told Alpha News that he and the City Council are prepared to stand their ground after taking heat from some residents for displaying a pro-police flag outside City Hall.
The council approved a motion in September to begin flying a “thin blue line” flag outside the city government’s headquarters. Since then, Mayor Dennis Walsh said his office has received several complaints from people who believe the flag is a symbol of white supremacy and racism.
The only apparent evidence of that claim is the fact that the flags were spotted at the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. The president of Thin Blue Line USA, one of the largest retailers of the flag, said it “has no association with racism, hatred, bigotry.”
“It’s a flag to show support for law enforcement — no politics involved,” Andrew Jacob told The Marshall Project. His company condemned the “misuse” of the flag in Charlottesville.
“The thin blue line flag stands for the sacrifice law enforcement officers make for this nation each day,” he said. “We reject in the strongest possible terms any association of our flag with racism, hatred or bigotry.”
The “thin blue line” itself represents the men and women in uniform who hold the divide between order and chaos, the company explains on its website.
Several residents turned out for Orono’s Monday night council meeting to give public comment on the matter, including Republican congressional candidate Kendall Qualls.
“Just because we have a president who supports the police doesn’t mean you have to do the exact opposite of a president who you don’t support,” said Qualls. “This is a time to bring our country together and not bring politics into everything that we do.”
One resident said she was “saddened and disgusted that some people have chosen to make this political.”
“For all the people who have used this flag to be divisive with their words like ‘racist,’ ‘white supremacy,’ shame on you. Our police officers come in all colors,” she said.
Andrew Myers, a Republican candidate for House District 33B, also voiced his support for the flag during the meeting.
Walsh said the city plans to fly a “thin red line” flag for firefighters and another for public works employees. To abide by proper flag etiquette, all three flags will be flown separately from the American flag on a shorter flagpole.
As of now, the “thin blue line” flag is displayed on a light pole outside City Hall, according to an anonymous Twitter user who encouraged others to complain to city leaders.