In bizarre scenes in Cincinnati on Sunday, a sheriff confirmed that a “Thin Blue Line” flag was raised outside a law enforcement building, in place of the Stars and Stripes.
Pictures of the flag went viral, stoking anger nationwide among people protesting the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, the latest case to fuel the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality.
In the words of the Associated Press, “the Blue Lives Matter flag is a black-and-white US flag with a blue stripe replacing one white stripe. Thin Blue Line USA, the group that sells the flags, says the thin blue line represents officers in the line of duty and the black represents fallen officers.”
Cincinnati has like other major cities been the setting for protest over the last three nights. Local media has extensive coverage.
On Sunday, Hamilton County sheriff Jim Neil said the American flag that usually flies outside the county Justice Center “was stolen during the Vandalism of the Justice Center. The Thin Blue Line was raised by our deputies to honor the CPD Officer who was shot. The flag has been removed and we will replace it with the American Flag in the morning.”
Local media reported that the officer in question had been struck on his helmet by a bullet, but was not injured.
Chris Seelbach, chair of the Cincinnati city council, who was tagged in the sheriff’s tweet, tweeted back at his fellow Democrat: “Should have been replaced with American flag immediately. Not replaced with a politically charged blue lives matter flag when thousands are protesting in our streets because #BlackLivesMatter. Sheriff Neil has only made things worse. Again.”
In Portland, Oregon last year, a government employee won $100,000 in a settlement after she alleged she was bullied by fellow employees who displayed the flag in her office. As the AP reported then, in her lawsuit against Multnomah county, Karimah Guion-Pledgure said the flag demeaned the Black Lives Matter movement.”
In Cincinnati on Monday, local ABC affiliate WCPO reported that protest organisers had released a list of goals, intending “to deliver a clear message to the media, local politicians, the Cincinnati police department and people of Cincinnati as to the goal of recent protests.
“The first item on the list calls for Derek Chauvin, the officer arrested for Floyd’s death, to receive the maximum sentence for his charges and for the other three officers involved in Floyd’s death to be charged as well.
“The remaining items on the list concern the Cincinnati area. Some of the items include a call for the demilitarization of the Cincinnati police department, independent internal affairs investigators and civilian oversight boards and a call for CPD officers to spend ‘80 hours a year volunteering in the communities they patrol’.”
Here’s some further reading from Nathan Robinson, on how across America, police are responding to peaceful protests with violence: