LAPD bans display of thin blue line flags

The Los Angeles Police Department has banned the display of thin blue line flags.

Chief Michael Moore says there will be no displaying of the thin blue line flag at public events and station lobbies. Moore has also prohibited thin blue line patches to be displayed on uniforms or decals on cars. 

The move follows complaints from the community, from some people who believe the symbol has been hijacked by extremist and white supremacists. 

Democratic analyst Ed Espinoza and Save Austin Now co-founder Matt Mackowiak joined FOX 7 Austin's Mike Warren to discuss.

MIKE: Matt, Save Austin Now really works to strengthen Austin police. What do you think of this move by the L.A. police chief?

MATT: Well, I mean, you hate seeing any symbol that has a fairly innocent meaning, like the symbol on flag be hijacked by anyone that has a different agenda. But these flags, I think, remind not just the community of the risks that our police are taking, but it's a way for police officers to honor the sacrifices that other police officers make. So it's a truly regrettable decision in L.A. I certainly hope nothing like that happens in Austin. We have to remember, our police officers go to work every day not knowing if they're coming home. And that's a huge burden that not just they carry, but their family members carry. And so if this flag helps them, helps their colleagues through difficult circumstances and helps the community understand the risks they take. Sure. Seems to me like that's something we ought to honor and not prevent people from using.

MIKE: Ed Espinoza. What's your take on the L.A. police chief's move?

ED: Well, first, what's happened in L.A. is not unique to just L.A. This is a problem that's being discussed in parts of Pennsylvania and parts of Canada to other parts of this country as well, is that this is not about the cops. It's about the political interests that have commandeered the thin blue line flag. When you saw the people assaulting the Capitol on January 6th, many of them were waving thin blue line flags. There's a quote in USA Today by D.C. Metro Police Officer Daniel Hodges talking about he and his fellow officers being assaulted by people waving that flag. So, again, this is less about law enforcement and more about the far right to the extreme, far right. Donald Trump supporters waving the thin blue flag next to the Confederate flag. This is not, I would say, an issue that's on the cops as much as it's an issue that is on the politics that have co-opted this imagery.

MIKE: You know, talking about this decision and how these decisions are made, Matt, just about everything out there is going to offend somebody. And any extreme group can take on some symbol that they happen to like. And so in this case, it's like, okay, because some crazy group likes this symbol, then we've got to put it in the trash can for the rest of us. How do you gauge? Is there a way to both of you? I mean, you're always going to have a level of I'm offended and outrage. How do you gauge that for the larger society of people?  

MATT: Mike, it's a great question. And, you know, if we decide we're going to allow people who complain and whine about one specific thing and misunderstanding what it means, then we're letting them decide what things we can use in public discourse on things we can't. It's easy for the police and for sheriff's departments and other law enforcement to come out and say, Here's what this flag means, Here's why it's important to us. Anyone that uses it for some other purpose isn't changing what it means. And so I think a big problem in the culture right now is we react to people who complain and who whine and who make demands and who protest just because someone else is offended at a symbol that means something to our police doesn't mean our police can't use that symbol. So I think this is the LAPD giving in to something where it doesn't really make sense. And and and we're kind of letting them win in a sense. And I think that's regrettable.

MIKE: You know, Ed, what are your thoughts on this about, you know, people who are offended by some things and because a certain group takes on a symbol, you have to throw it out.  

ED: Yeah. No, and it's a fair point because there are issues here of free speech. And then there's also the old line. You can't please all the people all the time. But there is an issue when it comes down to the proliferation of the imagery. And there's no real easy answer to this. And I'll give you an example. In Brazil right now, the nationalist regime is cooped the Brazilian soccer jersey, the yellow and green and blue uniform. And that's a real problem down there, because that's a beloved piece of imagery for that country that one political party has wrapped itself in. And I think that you're seeing similarities here. Again, this is less about the cops and this is more about the politics. And we can show appreciation for law enforcement in many other ways. We should be inviting law enforcement to community meetings. We shouldn't be inviting them to town halls and building those relationships. We saw Dallas have a really success with its community policing model. Right. We can. The blue ribbon is still a way that people can express their support for law enforcement. But I don't know what the answer is right now. I don't know if banning it or keeping it either way. But the imagery has become prolific, and because of that, it has become problematic.  

MIKE: Well, is the clock ticking on the blue ribbon? Who knows? It is a tough subject. All right, Matt, Ed, we got to wrap it up. Thank you both very much.