The Springfield Township Police Benevolent Association and the Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police filed a legal challenge to Springfield Township’s ban on employees wearing Blue Lives Matter flags on duty.
The Springfield Township Police Benevolent Association and the Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police filed a legal challenge on Friday to the Springfield Township Board of Commissioners’ ban on township employees wearing the Blue Lives Matter flag insignia on township property while they are on duty. The resolution, which was passed last month, came on the heels of a roughly year-long debate about the township PBA’s use of the flag in their logo.
According to the motion filed by the plaintiffs, the resolution is “blatantly unconstitutional” and “defiles bedrock First Amendment principles reiterated by a legion of Supreme Court cases.”
Springfield Township Commissioner Eddie Graham, who has been the commissioner most vocal against the PBA’s logo, called the lawsuit “frivolous.”
“The employment policy already tells the police department what they can and can’t wear on the campus,” he said in a phone call with the Local on Monday. “The resolution was a very small step because it reinforced a policy that was already in existence. For them to go to this extent says a lot.”
Residents and board members who oppose the use of the logo say the flag, sometimes referred to as the Thin Blue Line flag, is inappropriate for use by local police due to its association with white supremacists and other hate groups.
The logo “negates a lot of things that the Benevolent Association stands for,” said one resident, Adam Goren, in a meeting last year.
“I know for a fact that the Springfield Township Benevolent Association does good work,” Goren added. “This is why I'm having so much trouble understanding why the Thin Blue Line flag is associated with the Benevolent Association.”
Those in favor of using the logo say it's just a way of supporting people who work in law enforcement.
“The Thin Blue Line flag has come to represent a show of support for and solidarity with members of law enforcement, which includes police officers,” the plaintiffs’ motion says.
Neither the PBA, the Pennsylvania FOP nor the Springfield Township Police Department returned the Local’s requests for comment. Jim Lee, president of the Springfield Township Board of Commissioners, also declined to comment.
According to Graham, an evidentiary hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Center City. The judge presiding over the case is U.S. District Judge Karen Marston, a Trump appointee and member of the Federalist Society, a conservative group that advocates against “orthodox liberal ideology” in the United States legal system.
Graham told the Local that the plaintiffs “explicitly sought Marston out to hear this case.”
“For a police department to go to this length to fight the people that employ them sounds volumes out to the community,” Graham said. It speaks to “why there is such distrust with the police department among the communities of color.”