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A Minnesota police chief was forced to apologize for posting an image of a ‘thin blue line’ flag to his department’s Facebook page last week, after community members aired complaints labeling the symbol a representation of ‘extremist views.’

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

However, more recently, the symbol has been deemed divisive by many, as its meaning has shifted from one of nonpartisan support to one  synonymous with the far-right and even white supremacists

The symbol subsequently sparked outrage when it appeared in a January 9 social media post from the Golden Valley Police Department, as the force celebrated National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

After being spurred to delete the post, Green wrote in a follow-up post last week that the image was intended as a token of thanks to its 21 officers, and that its message had been misinterpreted by citizens who reportedly called in to complain.

Golden Valley Police Chief Virgil Green was forced to apologize for posting an image of a 'thin blue line' flag to his department's Facebook page last week, after a community member issued a complaint labeling the symbol a representation of 'extremist views.'

Golden Valley Police Chief Virgil Green was forced to apologize for posting an image of a ‘thin blue line’ flag to his department’s Facebook page last week, after a community member issued a complaint labeling the symbol a representation of ‘extremist views.’

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

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

Despite this, the chief – the town’s first black police chief –  acknowledged the flag had offended some and could thus be deemed offensive.

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With this in mind, Green – who was hired months ago as part of a city effort to address supposed racism present in the department – profusely apologized for publishing the seemingly harmless symbol.

‘For many, the thin blue line flag has always represented a way to honor the commitment we make as first responders to protect our community,’ Green wrote in an online post penned to the community’s roughly 22,000 residents last week. 

‘It is disappointing that in recent years the flag’s positive intention has been tarnished with divisive undertones and actions,’ the chief went on to add. 

‘We do not want to promote these negative connotations.’

However, more recently, the symbol has been deemed divisive by many, as its meaning has shifted from one of nonpartisan support to one synonymous with the far-right and even white supremacists

However, more recently, the symbol has been deemed divisive by many, as its meaning has shifted from one of nonpartisan support to one synonymous with the far-right and even white supremacists

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

Green, who started his tenure as chief last summer, said that while he considered the flag to be apolitical, he understood that  that may not be the case for every citizen of the Minnesota suburb. 

‘In the future, the Golden Valley Police Department will use images that do not bring unwarranted controversy between the police and the public,’ his apology post promised.

Previously the Chief of an Oklahoma suburb outside Oklahoma City, Green was brought on to the force last September as part of a months-long effort to address racism in the small community.

Just a few weeks prior to Green’s thin blue line post,  Golden Valley released the results of a sprawling internal investigation into ‘anti-racism’ efforts from within the city’s police department.

The probe, carried out over the course of nine months by a private law firm in Minneapolis and completed in December, found that that there had been resistance to efforts to instill the non-racist ideology from officers on the force.

The tax-dollar-funded investigation was conducted at the behest of Mayor Shep Harris, and followed allegations of racism and officer misconduct that surfaced during the search for a new police chief.

That search culminated with Green’s hiring 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 elected to remove all images depicting the “thin blue line flag” from its stations citywide.

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 elected to remove all images depicting the "thin blue line flag" from its stations citywide

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 elected to remove all images depicting the “thin blue line flag” from its stations citywide

The nixings – which have been criticized by lawmakers and former officers – also came as the result of a complaint from a community member who insisted the flag represents extremist views. 

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

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‘It’s unfortunate that extremist groups have hijacked 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, to me, presents the honor, valor, dedication and sacrifice of law enforcement to protect our communities. 

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

Green, who started his tenure as chief last summer, said that while he considered the flag to be apolitical, he understood that that may not be the case for every citizen of the suburb

Green, who started his tenure as chief last summer, said that while he considered the flag to be apolitical, he understood that that may not be the case for every citizen of the suburb

 

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