Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 1st, 2021 at 11:29 am
The Oregon Department of Transportation has pulled down a Thin Blue Line flag that was flying on state-owned property.
The presence of the flag was noted by a Portland Twitter user who posted a photo of the image on Saturday (1/30) along with the message: “Why does the taxpayer-funded @OregonDOT lot at Hwy 26 & Timberline Rd have a Thin Blue Line flag on its flagpole?”
The post spread quickly and the majority of respondents expressed concern and tagged Oregon Governor Kate Brown in their messages. “Beyond inappropriate,” said one. “Gonna do anything about this racist flag on our community property @OregonGovBrown?” asked another.
The black, white, and blue flag design has a complicated history. It began as a way to show support for police officers, with the “thin blue line” representing law enforcement personnel who hold the line against society devolving into chaos. In recent years however, it has taken on very different connotations and is now a popular symbol for fascists, white supremacists and anti-government extremists. It was flown by many insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.
Oregon has a very racist history and our towns and cities have been considered a safe haven and fertile recruiting ground for white supremacists since our founding.
We reached out to ODOT Communications Manager Tom Fuller for comment over the weekend. Fuller was unable to reply but someone from his office emailed a statement Monday morning saying they “took immediate steps to remove it.” ODOT’s full statement is below:
“ODOT follows state policy [Department of Administrative Services policy 107-011-160] requiring ‘principal public buildings’ to fly the United States flag, the Oregon state flag and the National League of Families’ POW/MIA flag OR the U.S. and state flag if it’s not possible to fly all three. While field offices aren’t considered principal buildings the state encourages agencies to fly flags at such facilities.
When we learned of the thin blue line flag being flown, we took immediate steps to remove it. As of Saturday afternoon the flag was no longer flying on ODOT property.
While we recognize this particular flag was originally intended to demonstrate support for our law enforcement community, it now symbolizes broader messages inconsistent with ODOT’s values and commitment to social equity. In addition, as a matter of policy, ODOT does not fly flags other than the U.S. flag, the State of Oregon flag, and POW/MIA flags.”
ODOT is just the latest agency to work quickly to stamp out this symbol that might embolden racists. In 2017, Multnomah County removed a Thin Blue Line flag from a breakroom. And in September 2020 the City of Bend removed a sticker of the flag from all police patrol cars.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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