Police officers perform a dangerous and often thankless job, day in and day out. My family and I appreciate their service to our community. However, the logo they're using is a divisive symbol that undermines the values that bind us.
My wife, son, and I moved to Springfield Township last year. We are so happy to be part of this beautiful community where various members of my family have resided on and off for nearly a hundred years. In every way, Springfield Township is a friendly, diverse, and welcoming community.
Police officers perform a dangerous and often thankless job, day in and day out. My family and I appreciate their service to our community and thank them from the bottom of our hearts. However, when cleaning up a stack of mail recently, I became aware that the Springfield Township Police Benevolent Association is using a divisive symbol that undermines the values that bind us, and creates an obstacle in the vital relationship between the police and our community.
The so-called “thin blue line flag” was popularized in 2014 as a direct reaction against calls for enhanced police accountability. Many officers perceive it as a symbol of pride in their profession. However, the symbol carries a variety of meanings when observed by the general public. The flag has become tainted by its frequent use by white supremacist and anti-democracy forces at events like the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA, and the 2021 insurrection and desecration of the United States Capitol. While some adherents of the “thin blue line flag” may disavow such events, in the mind of the average citizen, the message being conveyed by such symbolism is at best uncertain, and at worst, outright antagonistic.
As a proud American patriot whose ancestors fought for our nation in the American Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II, I believe the flag of the United States deserves the utmost reverence. According to the United States Flag Code,
“The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature… The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.”
While there is no penalty for violation of the United States Flag Code, it is universally accepted as the standard of etiquette for handling or displaying Old Glory. The “thin blue line flag” is an obvious desecration of our nation’s flag, and its use by the Springfield Township Police Benevolent Association is a clear violation of the Flag Code.
I applaud the stated mission of the Springfield Township Police Benevolent Association to “work to maintain a positive presence in the community [they] serve.” In fact, I would have proudly contributed funds toward this mission as their mailer recently requested. However, the use of the divisive and upsetting “thin blue line flag” symbol was the sole reason I was unable to support this otherwise admirable organization. If and when the organization ceases to use this symbol in its logo, my family and I would be proud to support its mission.
I hope that the Springfield Township Police Benevolent Association will cease using the “thin blue line flag” in its logo. Many members of the Springfield Township community agree this symbol divides our lovely community and undermines the worthy mission of the PBA. In the coming weeks, we will be organizing and finding new ways to voice our opposition.
Evan G. Klinefelter