SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Pa. – A police union in Pennsylvania has defeated its township in federal court over an issue dealing with the “Thin Blue Line” flag.
Tensions began when the police union in Springfield Township voted in 2021 to incorporate the “Thin Blue Line” flag into its logo. Several township commissioners opposed the artistic expression since the flag had become synonymous with Blue Lives Matter, a movement of police supporters in response to Black Lives Matter, Fox News Digital reported.
Despite the township offering to pay up to $10,000 to change the logo, the union voted to deny a request by commissioners to modify it.
Finally, the township’s attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter to the union last year, according to the news outlet.
Like so many others, the township had been duped into believing the flag represents something hateful. The letter said the use of the flag in the union’s logo “unnecessarily exacerbates the ongoing conflict between police officers and the communities they serve.”
As a result, the township ordered the union to stop using the flag or remove Springfield Township from its name.
Once the union refused to change its’ name or drop the flag, the commissioners adopted a policy that barred township employees, agents or consultants from displaying the flag while on duty or representing the township.
After challenging the township’s policy, a federal court has now ruled that the prohibition upon the police union by the Pennsylvania community is unconstitutional.
The Springfield Township argued the use of the flag was creating “discontent and distrust” in the community against the police.
However, U.S. District Judge Karen Marston ruled the ban restricts the free speech of public employees under the First Amendment, although she, too, seems to be unaware of the true meaning of the law enforcement flag based upon wording in her decision.
“The Township repeatedly suggests that the ‘Thin Blue Line’ American Flag is of limited, if any, public value or concern because it is ‘offensive’ and ‘racist,’” Marston wrote in the court opinion. “But as this Court previously told the Township, ‘the First Amendment protects speech even when it is considered ‘offensive.’”
Marston said the township’s calling the flag various names bordered on unprofessional. She conceded that it was “undeniable that the Flag carries racist undertones to certain members of the community.”
The attorney representing the police union, Wally Zimolong, said the court’s ruling was a vindication of the officers’ claims, according to Fox.
“It was a resounding win for the First Amendment and free speech,” he said. “It showed once again that the government cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination based upon a message it disagrees with or finds offensive.”
The “Thin Blue Line” flag is a symbol of honor and reverence for police officers who sacrificed their lives—and undeniably, a flag and symbol of religious ceremony. With that in mind, government agencies, schools, and practically every other nay-saying organization probably ought to think twice before trying to remove or censor its use.
Granted, other flags have been banned recently. For example, the flag of the Confederacy and other flags that feature the “stars and bars” almost immediately come to mind. However, the Confederate flag was a political symbol—and does not have the religious significance of the “Thin Blue Line” flag and its variations which derived from religious ceremony and funeral rites. And as a flag, the “Thin Blue Line” clearly derives from casket bands used to secure the American flag over a casket during funerals and other religious ceremonies.
Moreover, the “Thin Blue Line” is a law enforcement colloquial that goes back more than 150 years. To conclude the “Thin Blue Line” or the flag representing it is a rebuke of the “Black Lives Matter” movement is sheer ignorance.
Indeed, casket bands securing the American flag during funerals, explain a lot about the origin and use of the “Thin Blue Line” flag. Unless of course we want to re-imagine that taking one particular stripe and coloring it blue had absolutely nothing to do with a rather obvious and undeniable practice.
And unlike other flags and symbols, the “Thin Blue Line” flag owes much of its origin and development to religious ceremony. And since it is used in funerals and religious ceremonies to honor fallen officers of various religions and ethnicities, its significance as a religious symbol is even more widespread.
Of course, declaring everything “racist” or “offensive” is wildly popular these days. But attempts to eradicate the “Thin Blue Line” flag should appropriately be met with opposition since it’s a violation of the First Amendment.