Black Minnesota Police Chief apologizes for posting thin blue line icon

Black Minnesota Police Chief apologizes for posting thin blue line icon

A Minnesota police chief was forced to apologize last week for posting an image of a flag with a “thin blue line” on his department’s Facebook page after members of the community aired complaints that the symbol was seen as representing “extremist views.” “ was designated.

The flag, a black and white rendition of the American flag with a blue stripe running just below the stars, represents men and women in blue who stand as the line between law and order.

More recently, however, the symbol has been seen as divisive by some, as its meaning has shifted from bipartisan support to being synonymous with far-right and even white supremacists

The symbol subsequently sparked outrage when it appeared in a social media post by the Golden Valley Police Department on Jan. 9 as the force was celebrating National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

After being goaded into deleting the post, Green wrote in a follow-up post last week that the picture was intended as a thank you to his 21 officers and that his message had been misinterpreted by citizens who reportedly called to complain .

Golden Valley Police Chief Virgil Green was forced to apologize last week for posting an image of a “thin blue line” flag on his department’s Facebook page after a community member filed a complaint containing the symbol labeled as depicting “extremist views”.

The flag, a black and white rendition of the American flag with a blue stripe running just below the stars, represents men and women in blue who stand as the line between law and order

The flag, a black and white rendition of the American flag with a blue stripe running just below the stars, represents men and women in blue who stand as the line between law and order

Despite this, the chief – the city’s first black police chief – acknowledged that the flag had offended some and could therefore be considered offensive.

With that in mind, Green – who was hired months ago as part of a city effort to combat alleged racism in the department – apologized profusely for posting the seemingly innocuous symbol.

“For many, the thin blue line flag has always been a way of fulfilling the commitment we make as first responders to protecting our community,” Green wrote in an online post to the community’s roughly 22,000 residents last week.

“It’s disappointing that the flag’s positive intent has been clouded by divisive undertones and actions in recent years,” the chief added.

“We don’t want to encourage those negative connotations.”

More recently, however, the symbol has been seen by many as divisive, as its meaning has shifted from bipartisan support to being synonymous with far-right and even white supremacists

More recently, however, the symbol has been seen by many as divisive, as its meaning has shifted from bipartisan support to being synonymous with far-right and even white supremacists

The apology came after the post was reportedly bombarded with comments on the post complaining about the use of the flag.

Green, who began his term as chief last summer, said that while he views the flag as apolitical, he understands that may not be the case for every citizen of suburban Minnesota.

“Going forward, the Golden Valley Police Department will use imagery that does not create undue controversy between police and the public,” his apology post promised.

Still, the chief -- the city's first black police chief to crack down on racism allegations in the Minneapolis suburb -- acknowledged that the flag had offended some and could therefore be considered offensive

Still, the chief — the city’s first black police chief to crack down on racism allegations in the Minneapolis suburb — acknowledged that the flag had offended some and could therefore be considered offensive

Green, who was previously the chief of an Oklahoma suburb outside of Oklahoma City, was called to the force last September as part of a months-long effort to combat racism in the small community.

Just weeks before Green’s thin blue line post, Golden Valley released the findings of a wide-ranging internal investigation into “anti-racism” efforts within the city’s police department.

The investigation, conducted over the course of nine months by a private Minneapolis law firm and completed in December, found that there had been opposition to efforts to inculcate non-racist ideology in the force’s officers.

The taxpayer-funded investigation was conducted at the behest of Mayor Shep Harris and followed allegations of racism and misconduct by officers who emerged in the search for a new police chief.

That search culminated in the hiring of Green last summer.

The backlash against Green’s post — which proponents argued was simply a show of police pride and solidarity — comes as the Los Angeles Police Department decided to remove all “thin blue line” flag images from its stations around the city to remove.

The backlash against Green's post - which proponents argued was simply a show of police pride and solidarity - comes as the Los Angeles Police Department decided to remove all images showing him "thin blue line flag" from its stations across the city

The backlash against Green’s post — which proponents argued was simply a show of police pride and solidarity — comes as the Los Angeles Police Department decided to remove all “thin blue line” flag images from its stations around the city to remove

The taxpayer-funded investigation was conducted at the behest of Mayor Shep Harris and followed allegations of racism and misconduct by officers who emerged in the search for a new police chief

The taxpayer-funded investigation was conducted at the behest of Mayor Shep Harris and followed allegations of racism and misconduct by officers who emerged in the search for a new police chief

The Nixings – which have drawn criticism from lawmakers and former officers – were also the result of a complaint from a community member who insisted the flag held extremist views.

In a statement eerily similar to Green’s last week, LAPD chief Michel Moore told City of Angels citizens that while he views the flag from a different perspective than the complainant, the “presentation of the flag in our public lobbies can be divisive”.

“It is unfortunate that extremist groups have abused the use of the thin blue line flag to symbolize their undemocratic, racist and bigoted views,” Moore said.

“Flags serve as powerful symbols with specific meanings. The thin blue line flag represents to me the honor, courage, dedication and sacrifice of law enforcement to protect our communities.

“Tragically, this view is not universally held and others have been able to persuade the public that it symbolizes racist, bigoted and oppressive values.”

Green, who took up his tenure as chief last summer, said that while he sees the flag as apolitical, he understands that may not be the case for every citizen of the suburb

Green, who took up his tenure as chief last summer, said that while he sees the flag as apolitical, he understands that may not be the case for every citizen of the suburb

Despite the change, the chief reiterated that employees and associates are still allowed to have pictures or objects bearing the thin blue line flag in their work area, on the locker door and in official vehicles, as well as at memorials to fallen officers.

Moore said, “As our lobbies should be places where people feel safe, free from political ideology and welcoming, it remains our long-standing policy that only official items are displayed.”