Maryland’s Republican governor says he is “offended and disgusted” by a Democratic leader’s decision to forbid a local police station from displaying a ‘thin blue line’ flag because it was described as ‘divisive’ by some in the community in social media posts.
The wooden U.S. flag, made by Germantown, Md. resident James Shelton and his son, Forrest, was intended as gift in honor of National First Responders Day. The flag is black and white but for a blue line across the lower third. He made a similar one with a red line through it and gave that one to a local fire station.
Thank you to resident James Shelton, who presented Montgomery County 5th District officers with a wooden American Flag that he had made in recognition of National First Responders Day. The flag will be displayed in the 5th District Station. pic.twitter.com/kbAI32xHkY— Montgomery County Department of Police (@mcpnews) October 30, 2019
When pictures of the Sheltons were posted to the Facebook page of the Montgomery County Police Department, however, some members of the community took umbrage at the symbolism. Some noted that the blue line is a reference to the Blue Lives Matter movement, which is considered in some circles to be a racially tinged response to the Black Lives Matter.
Others said the non-standard flag had no business hanging in a public building anyway.
But the majority of the comments were, by far, supportive of the gesture.
Following the complaints, Montgomery County Marc Elrich told officers at the station to keep the flag under wraps.
“The flag provides a symbol of support to some but it is a symbol of dismissiveness to others,” he said in a statement. “Because it is divisive, the flag will not be posted at the 5th District nor in any public space within the Police Department.”
As word of the controversy trickled out, Maryland Republican Governor, Larry Hogan, weighed in. In a twitter post, he declared himself “offended and disgusted.”
Later, on Facebook, he posted pictures of himself standing in front of similar flags in government buildings across the state.
We have been proud to hang these Thin Blue Line flags in Government House to honor the service and sacrifice of our…Posted by Governor Larry Hogan on Sunday, November 3, 2019
“It is simply not appropriate or acceptable for the county executive to arbitrarily ban police officers from displaying a Thin Blue Line flag that was donated to them by a young boy in honor of National First Responders Day,” Hogan wrote.