A rally attendee sit draped in a “Thin Blue Line” pro-police blanket. (Henry Redman | Wisconsin Examiner)


In late October, then-President Donald trump card — in the midst of a scorched Earth re-election campaign that touted a pro-law enforcement message and painted him together the candidate that “law and also order,” — appeared at a rally in Waukesha. 

Trump arrived in southerly Wisconsin 2 months ~ a white Kenosha cop had actually shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man, 7 times in the back, sparking a renewed round of protests because that racial justice in Wisconsin and throughout the country.

You are watching: Black and white american flag blue line

Yet throughout this appearance, Trump, the 45th chairman of the united States, was not standing in former of one American flag. Behind Trump, hanging from two building and construction cranes, was a enormous pro-police thin blue heat flag. 

Months later, ~ above Jan. 6, a crowd of violent insurrectionists lower on the U.S. Capitol — spurred on by the president’s rhetoric, tweets and orders to alter the election results by moving out a coup attempt. In the mayhem, one Capitol police officer was killed and dozens an ext were injured. 

Police police officers were brutalized by civilization carrying the thin blue line pro-police flag who in some instances used the flag poles themselves together a weapon, videos showed. Among the throngs of upset QAnon followers, militia members and also other miscellaneous flavors of Trump supporters were off-duty cops from throughout the country. 

The flag, a black and white American flag v one blue stripe, got prominence ~ the black Lives matter protests in Ferguson, Mo. In 2014. But the expression “thin blue line,” has been roughly for nearly a century. 

“Pedestrian leg Conservative Flag Activist in Minnesota with Thin Blue heat flag in front” by Tony Webster via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

The blue heat represents the division between societal chaos and also order, with cops in ~ the facility holding back the forces of evil. 

Even without the newfound political connotations, the idea that the police room the just thing stand in the means of culture decay, deserve to be unhelpful, according to Ion Meyn, a criminal justice professor at the UW-Madison law School 

“It an extremely much puts police ~ above the next of an ideological background that might be very, an extremely exclusionary and also dangerous to far-reaching groups in the United claims who deserve your protection,” Meyn says. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for police to take the stance.”

The black color Lives issue movement has grown in an answer to the continued killing that Black human being by police officers and also the flag’s use has grown alongside together a blue lives matter backlash motion spread. 

The flag to be prominently flown alongside tiki torches and other icons of dislike at the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va.

“There’s no concern that this flag’s political definition in the trump era has concerned be a direct an answer to Black stays Matter and also an interpretation of Black lives Matter,” claims Steve Kantrowitz, a UW-Madison chronicler who research studies white supremacy. “So, in this means the slim blue line flag sort of steps right into the duty played through the Confederate fight flag end the past 70 year or so.” 

The flag’s use as a pro-cop cudgel culminated critical summer, when a large and multicultural group of protesters responded to the death of George Floyd, saying with a collective voice nationwide that cops must stop shooting, choking, kneeling on and harassing human being of color.


The protests enhanced Trump’s take on of the pro-police flag, and abdication of the stars and also stripes, super load the political meaning. Climate on Jan. 6, the people yelling the blue lives matter killed a police officer as they tried to overturn the results of the presidential election. 

But the flag is likely here to stay as a price of the conservative movement and also its white backlash politics. 

“Especially in the wake of the Jan. 6 riots and also insurrection, that’s critical moment to say host on, who’s really interested in law and also order?” states Nolan Bennett, a political scientific research professor at UW-Green Bay. “I nothing think it is going to go away, the flag’s not going to walk away and probably it will certainly be affiliated v whoever the next kingmaker that the Republican party is.”

In Wisconsin regulation enforcement, it shows up that the flag is still viewed as a prize of solidarity and also strength because that the profession. Some agencies, prefer the Jefferson ar Sheriff’s Office, stick thin blue line decals on squad cars. Autonomous Wisconsin Attorney general Josh Kaul posted a picture of the flag ~ above Jan. 9 for regulation Enforcement evaluation Day in a since-deleted tweet. The university of Wisconsin Police Department to be hit v criticism from parts of the school’s student body ~ it post a tweet in i beg your pardon the flag was seen hanging ~ above the wall in the lift of a photo. 

We damaged up a theft ring this weekend that plainly had a faulty leave strategy.

This is what happens once you and your roommate effort to “collect” an leave sign from each residence hall over the last two nights.

Please nothing steal leave signs. Or anything. Pic.twitter.com/vPPSvVDhTH

— UW-Madison Police (
UWMadisonPolice) November 15, 2020

“The blue line flag has actually long to be a symbol of solidarity and pride in ~ the regulation enforcement community, so lot so that it has end up being a usual ceremonial function at events memorializing fallen officers,” claims Jim Palmer, chairman of the Wisconsin expert Police Association. “Regrettably, in the last year we have actually seen the symbol hijacked and misappropriated by teams with a disingenuous politics agenda the bears no same to the professional calling the the flag is meant to embody, and the violent siege in ~ the U.S. Capitol provided the best evidence the that.” 

In mid-November 2020, as UWPD to be responding to criticism from students end its use of the flag, chief Kristen Roman defended the symbol — adding the flag in the UWPD office was a gift native a ar member — if acknowledging its complicated history. 

“To plenty of within and also outside the the police profession, symbolizes a commitment come public service and the many selfless sacrifices willingly made to honor that commitment, up to and including laying under one’s very own life to defend the lives of others,” Roman claimed in a statement. “But like countless things in our society, we know the imagery of the thin blue heat has developed to mean different things to different people. Sentiments about the imagery selection from neutral come denoting experienced pride come expressing support for regulation enforcement come highlighting a toxic ‘us vs. Them’ law enforcement society informed through hate.

“This is an especially true today as soon as the imagery has, in part cases, been co-opted to represent support the white supremacist ideologies, shirk police accountability, or otherwise dishonor the police profession,” she continued.

But the picture was posted as the campus police department was responding come calls for adjust from UW college student — partially stemming native the department’s duty in tamping down protests for racial righteousness in Madison critical summer. Students, according to the day-to-day Cardinal, view the department’s social media usage as an extension of that is tarnished partnership with those that is charged v protecting. 

Then, on Jan. 26, UWPD released new guidelines because that displaying the flag come “to distance UWPD from the slim blue line imagery and also the fear and mistrust that it at this time evokes because that too many in our community.”

Displays of the symbol will not be enabled within the department on “flags, pins, bracelets, notebooks, coffee mugs, decals, etc.” roman will grant use that the flag on a case-by-case basis in instances such together an officer dying on duty. Similarly, UWPD officers with tattoos that the flag won’t have to cover the image. 

“The balance has actually tipped, and also we must take into consideration the expense of clinging to a symbol the is undeniably and also inextricably connected to actions and also beliefs antithetical to UWPD’s values,” Roman created in the guidelines, i beg your pardon were initially written as an e-mail to UWPD staff.

But also as she ended the flag’s use in she department, roman inn denied the definition that college student insisted the flag held. 

“My intent is no that we disapprove outright the symbol because that what we know it come represent, nor carry out I believe it to be naturally racist/fascist as many purport,” she said. “Instead, my will is to be fairly responsive come its detrimental affect on many in our ar for who the visible symbol hold a very different meaning.”

Yet not all world in the legislation enforcement neighborhood see the flag as an important symbol the the profession. Randy Shrewsberry, a former cop who now works to revolutionary policing as executive manager of the Institute because that Criminal righteousness Training Reform, says agencies need to forbid that use. 

“To start, i loathe these flags,” Shrewsberry says. “I don’t like what they initially represented, and I definitely have disdain because that what they’ve become to characterize. The idea the the “thin blue line” is ridiculous, in my view, and adds come the false notion that the police room the towel of what holds society together. 

“I think the flag, or symbol, has end up being the representative of the absurd ‘Blue resides Matter’ chant – i m sorry is a racism trope the attempts to water down the prestige of the black Lives matter campaign.”


▪ friend must give Wisconsin Examiner credit, consisting of https://znjke.com and author.

▪ If you publish online, encompass the links from the story, and a attach to Wisconsin Examiner.

▪ Stories may be edited because that in-house format or to shorten. An ext substantial transforms should be provided as extr and carried out by your publication.

▪ You deserve to publish ours graphics and also any photos that are credited to Wisconsin Examiner v the stories with which they initially appeared. For any type of other uses, you should seek permission from united state at

▪ If you share the story on social media, please mention
WIExaminer ~ above Twitter and also znjke.com ~ above Facebook.

▪ Don"t market the story.

▪ Don’t market ads versus the story. Feeling free, however, come publish it on a page with ads you’ve currently sold.

▪ Content should not be published behind a paywall; please reach the end to the editor-in-chief if you have questions around your particular paywall system.


The slim blue line flag: prize of police pride or violent insurrection?

by Henry Redman, Wisconsin Examiner February 2, 2021

In late October, then-President Donald trumped — in the midst of a charred Earth re-election project that arourted a pro-law enforcement message and painted him together the candidate the “law and also order,” — appeared at a rally in Waukesha. 

Trump come in southern Wisconsin 2 months after a white Kenosha cop had shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black color man, 7 times in the back, sparking a renewed round of protests for racial justice in Wisconsin and across the country.

Yet during this appearance, Trump, the 45th president of the united States, was not standing in former of an American flag. Behind Trump, hanging indigenous two building cranes, was a enormous pro-police thin blue heat flag. 

Months later, top top Jan. 6, a group of violent insurrectionists descended on the U.S. Capitol — spurred on through the president’s rhetoric, tweets and also orders to alter the election outcomes by delivering out a coup attempt. In the mayhem, one Capitol police officer to be killed and also dozens much more were injured. 

Police policemans were brutalized by human being carrying the slim blue heat pro-police flag that in some situations used the flag poles themselves as a weapon, videos showed. Amongst the throngs of upset QAnon followers, militia members and also other assorted flavors that Trump pendant were off-duty cops from throughout the country. 

The flag, a black and white American flag through one blue stripe, acquired prominence after ~ the black color Lives issue protests in Ferguson, Mo. In 2014. However the phrase “thin blue line,” has actually been around for virtually a century. 

“Pedestrian leg Conservative Flag Activist in Minnesota v Thin Blue line flag in front” by Tony Webster via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

The blue line represents the department between societal chaos and also order, with cops at the center holding ago the pressures of evil. 

Even there is no the newfound politics connotations, the idea the the police room the only thing stand in the means of society decay, can be unhelpful, follow to Ion Meyn, a criminal justice professor in ~ the UW-Madison legislation School 

“It an extremely much place police top top the next of an ideological background that can be very, really exclusionary and also dangerous to significant groups in the United claims who deserve their protection,” Meyn says. “I don’t think it’s ideal for police to take that stance.”

The black Lives matter movement has actually grown in an answer to the ongoing killing the Black human being by police officers and also the flag’s use has grown alongside together a blue lives matter backlash movement spread. 

The flag to be prominently flown together tiki torches and other icons of hate at the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va.

“There’s no concern that this flag’s political definition in the trump card era has involved be a direct response to Black resides Matter and also an translate of Black stays Matter,” states Steve Kantrowitz, a UW-Madison historian who research studies white supremacy. “So, in this method the slim blue line flag type of steps into the role played by the Confederate battle flag end the previous 70 years or so.” 

The flag’s usage as a pro-cop cudgel culminated last summer, when a huge and multicultural team of protesters comment to the killing of George Floyd, saying through a cumulative voice nationwide that cops need to stop shooting, choking, kneeling on and also harassing world of color.


The protests enhanced Trump’s take on of the pro-police flag, and abdication of the stars and also stripes, super load the politics meaning. Then on Jan. 6, the civilization yelling that blue resides matter eliminated a police officer together they tried to overturn the outcomes of the presidential election. 

But the flag is likely here to continue to be as a price of the conservative movement and its white backlash politics. 

“Especially in the wake of the Jan. 6 riots and also insurrection, that’s critical moment come say organize on, who’s yes, really interested in law and order?” states Nolan Bennett, a political science professor in ~ UW-Green Bay. “I nothing think that’s going to go away, the flag’s not going to walk away and probably it will be affiliated through whoever the following kingmaker that the Republican party is.”

In Wisconsin regulation enforcement, it shows up that the flag is still seen as a prize of solidarity and also strength for the profession. Some agencies, prefer the Jefferson county Sheriff’s Office, stick slim blue line decals on squad cars. Autonomous Wisconsin Attorney general Josh Kaul posted a picture of the flag ~ above Jan. 9 for regulation Enforcement evaluation Day in a since-deleted tweet. The college of Wisconsin Police Department to be hit through criticism from components of the school’s college student body after ~ it posted a tweet in which the flag was seen hanging ~ above the wall surface in the lift of a photo. 

We broke up a theft ring this weekend that plainly had a faulty leave strategy.

This is what happens when you and also your roommate attempt to “collect” an exit sign from every residence hall over the last two nights.

Please don’t steal leave signs. Or anything. Pic.twitter.com/vPPSvVDhTH

— UW-Madison Police (
UWMadisonPolice) November 15, 2020

“The blue line flag has long to be a prize of solidarity and also pride in ~ the legislation enforcement community, so much so the it has come to be a typical ceremonial attribute at events memorializing please officers,” states Jim Palmer, chairman of the Wisconsin professional Police Association. “Regrettably, in the critical year we have seen that symbol hijacked and misappropriated by groups with a disingenuous politics agenda the bears no same to the expert calling that the flag is intended to embody, and the violent siege in ~ the U.S. Capitol noted the ideal evidence of that.” 

In mid-November 2020, together UWPD was responding to criticism indigenous students over its use of the flag, cook Kristen Roman safeguarded the prize — adding the flag in the UWPD office to be a gift from a community member — while acknowledging its complex history. 

“To countless within and also outside that the police profession, symbolizes a commitment come public service and the many selfless sacrifices willingly made to honor that commitment, up to and also including laying down one’s very own life to defend the stays of others,” Roman said in a statement. “But like countless things in our society, we understand the imagery the the thin blue line has evolved to mean various things to various people. Sentiments about the imagery range from neutral to denoting experienced pride come expressing assistance for legislation enforcement come highlighting a toxic ‘us vs. Them’ legislation enforcement culture informed by hate.

See more: Can Tums Help With Acid Reflux : How To Know When You Need More Than Medicine

“This is an especially true today as soon as the imagery has, in some cases, to be co-opted to signify support of white superior ideologies, shirk police accountability, or otherwise dishonor the police profession,” she continued.

But the picture was posted as the campus police department was responding to calls for change from UW student — partially stemming native the department’s function in tamping down protests for racial righteousness in Madison critical summer. Students, follow to the daily Cardinal, view the department’s society media use as an extension of its tarnished relationship with those it is charged through protecting. 

Then, ~ above Jan. 26, UWPD released brand-new guidelines because that displaying the flag come “to street UWPD from the thin blue line imagery and also the fear and mistrust that it right now evokes for too plenty of in our community.”

Displays the the symbol will certainly not be permitted within the room on “flags, pins, bracelets, notebooks, coffee mugs, decals, etc.” roman inn will grant use of the flag top top a case-by-case basis in instances such as an officer dying on duty. Similarly, UWPD policemans with tattoos the the flag won’t must cover the image. 

“The balance has actually tipped, and we must take into consideration the cost of clinging to a symbol the is undeniably and also inextricably linked to actions and beliefs antithetical to UWPD’s values,” Roman wrote in the guidelines, i beg your pardon were originally written as an email to UWPD staff.

But even as she finished the flag’s use in she department, roman denied the meaning that college student insisted the flag held. 

“My intent is not that we disapprove outright the symbol because that what we understand it to represent, nor perform I believe it to be inherently racist/fascist as numerous purport,” she said. “Instead, my intent is come be fairly responsive come its detrimental affect on plenty of in our neighborhood for who the clearly shows symbol hold a really different meaning.”

Yet no all human being in the law enforcement community see the flag as critical symbol of the profession. Randy Shrewsberry, a former cop who currently works to reform policing as executive director of the Institute for Criminal justice Training Reform, states agencies should forbid that use. 

“To start, i loathe this flags,” Shrewsberry says. “I don’t favor what they originally represented, and I certainly have disdain because that what they’ve come to be to characterize. The idea the the “thin blue line” is ridiculous, in my view, and adds to the false notion that the police room the fabric of what holds society together. 

“I think the flag, or symbol, has come to be the representative that the absurd ‘Blue resides Matter’ chant – which is a racist trope that attempts to thin down the prestige of the black Lives matter campaign.”

Wisconsin Examiner is component of claims Newsroom, a network the news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Wisconsin Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Ruth Conniff because that questions: info