August 1, 2020
The Hingham Fire Department in Massachusetts flew “Thin Blue Line” flags from its firetrucks this month, to honor the memory of a fallen police officer from a nearby town who was murdered in the line of duty two years ago.
A resident wrote the leaders of the town of Hingham complaining that the flags honoring law enforcement now symbolize “white supremacy” and arguing that they should be taken down. Following resistance, the “Thin Blue Line” flags were removed from the trucks — but the rank and file members of the fire department refused to be the ones to do it.
What are the details?
Weymouth Police Sgt. Michael Chesna—a veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars—was investigating a car accident in July of 2018 when a suspect attacked him with a rock before killing him with his own service weapon. In remembrance of the second anniversary of Chesna’s death, the Hingham Fire Department affixed the “Thin Blue Line” flags on their trucks.
The Patriot Ledger reported that an unnamed Hingham resident reacted by emailing the town’s board of selectmen calling for the flags to be removed, arguing that the flags “have become a symbol of white supremacy” in light of the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to The Ledger, “Fire Chief Steve Murphy and Police Chief Glenn Olsson told personnel they’d need to remove the flags, which are black-and-white version of the American flag with a single blue line in the center, because they’re against a town policy that forbids political messaging on town property.”
Town leaders emphasized their support for law enforcement, but also acknowledged that under their rule against political displays, they had recently refused to fly LGBT pride flags on city property.
Fox News reported that the firefighters’ union “says it resisted removing the ‘Thin Blue Line’ flags” for days “because no member ‘was able to sacrifice his or her moral fortitude.'”
Union president Lt. Chris Melanson said of the flag earlier this week, “It has always, and will always, represent the men and women of law enforcement that hold the line between peace and chaos. Especially those who bravely made the ultimate sacrifice during the performance of these heroic duties.”
With no firefighters being willing to personally take down the flags, they solicited officers from the Weymouth Police Department who stepped in Thursday morning to assist with the flag removals from the fleet. The union issued a statement afterward saying, “We did not want to risk the chance of having these flags removed from the trucks in a disrespectful manner.”
‘Thin Blue Line’ Police Flags Removed From Hingham Fire Trucks