Hogan Calls Out MoCo’s Marc Elrich for Ordering ‘Thin Blue Line’ Flag Removed
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s order to the county police to remove a “Thin Blue Line” flag display has drawn sharp criticism from Gov. Larry Hogan. The flag depicts the “Thin Blue Line,” a symbol used to signal solidarity with police officers. A blue line stands in for one of the bars that normally would be red.
Governor Hogan fired off a series of tweets Sunday that he was “offended and disgusted” that Elrich had prohibited police officers from displaying the flag.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich had ordered the Montgomery County Police to remove the flag from public display. Acting Police Chief Marcus Jones obeyed Elrich’s order and the flag was removed on Friday.
According to County Executive Elrich:
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“The flag provides a symbol of support to some, but it is a symbol of submissiveness to others. Because it is divisive, the flag will not be posted at the 5th District nor in any public space within the Police Department. Under my administration, we are committed to improving police relations with the community and will immediately address any action that stands against our mission.”
Governor Hogan took the alternative position:
“We are proud to hang these Thin Blue Line flags in Government House to honor our brave law enforcement officers. A local elected official prohibiting police from displaying a flag given to them by a grateful child is disgraceful.”
In a statement posted on Facebook, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 said:[T]he flag represents “the sacrifices and dedication of police officers who daily risk their lives, health, limbs and own well-being in service to their community.”[i] Declining to display the flag was “an act of outright disrespect” to the county’s working police force.”
The Montgomery County Police had first publicly shared news of the gift on Wednesday in a message on Twitter. The department thanked resident James Shelton for giving the county’s 5th District station the handmade wooden American flag.[ii]
According to WJLA-TV ‘s Kevin Lewis, however, within hours, a handful of individuals had scolded the Montgomery County Police on social media for both accepting and exhibiting it because of a resemblance to the Blue Lives Matter symbol.
- “Thats [sic] a blue lives matter flag. its [sic] racist and dangerous. take it down NOW.” – @kpk63
- “No disrespect to the citizens who were trying to show appreciation for their local police, but Blue Lives Matter is a racist response to Black Lives Matter and DOES NOT belong in a county facility. Take it down!” – @MonicaGoldberg
- “This picture is a perfect example of why i am afraid to call the police in an emergency because i’m afraid you’ll hurt black people in my neighborhood. i have no idea what you think you’re doing, but what you’re actually doing is intimidating residents. stop it.” – @mbsocol
- “This is unacceptable. This flag was carried by the white supremacists in Charlottesville and has a meaning far beyond what you intend. (I hope!) Please do not raise this in a public building.” – @katiestauss”
After these responses, Marc Elrich sided with the social media critics and ordered the Police Department to remove the tribute.
According to the flag’s donor, James Shelton, woodworkers in all 50 states had been enlisted to make and deliver flags to their local fire and police departments on National First Responders Day, October 28. Shelton had jumped at the opportunity to do so in Maryland.
“I wanted my son to be involved so he could see how important it is to give back as well as to help build good character and make a wonderful memory we will always have,” Shelton told WJLA. “[My son] was so excited to help and even more so when he helped me deliver them.”[iii]