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‘Thin Blue Line’ flag donated for National First Responders Day causes political feud in Maryland

‘Thin Blue Line’ flag donated for National First Responders Day causes political feud in Maryland


‘Thin Blue Line’ flag donated for National First Responders Day causes political feud in Maryland

What was meant to be a show of support for first responders has turned into a political feud putting Montgomery County cops and politicians at even further odds.

Last Monday, a Germantown resident James Shelton and his young son, Forrest, delivered wooden American flags to the Fifth District Police Station in Germantown and Fire Station 31 along Darnestown Road in North Potomac. The police department flag had a blue line running through it whereas the fire department flag contained a red line.

On Wednesday, Montgomery County Police posted a photo on Facebook and Twitter showing Shelton, his son and three officers posing with the donated gift outside the district station.

“Thank you to resident James Shelton, who presented Montgomery County 5th District officers with a wooden American Flag that he had made in recognition of National First Responders Day. The flag will be displayed in the 5th District Station,” the police department wrote in its social media message.

Within hours, a handful of individuals left comments scolding Montgomery County Police for not only accepting but also planning to exhibit an object that bears a strong resemblance to the Blue Lives Matter symbol.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) soon began to inquire about the few dozen negative online comments. On Friday evening, he made his ruling: the donated gift was not welcome.

“The flag provides a symbol of support to some but it is a symbol of dismissiveness to others. Because it is divisive, the flag will not be posted at the 5th District nor in any public space within the Police Department,” Elrich said in a written statement. “Under my administration, we are committed to improving police relations with the community and will immediately address any action that stands against our mission.”

According to Shelton, a fellow craftsman in Chicago enlisted woodworkers in all 50 states to make and deliver flags to their local fire and police departments on National First Responders Day, which is October 28. Shelton jumped at the opportunity to fill the void in Maryland. A search of #makersneverforget on Instagram returns dozens of photos of wooden flags being donated to first responder across the country.

“I wanted my son to be involved so he could see how important it is to give back as well as to help build good character and make a wonderful memory we will always have,” Shelton told ABC7 Wednesday, unaware of the ensuing drama. “[My son] was so excited to help and even more so when be helped me deliver them.”

Fire Station 31 continues to display its handcrafted flag. In fact, the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1664 posted a handful of photos on its Facebook Page thanking Shelton and his son for their kindness and “amazingly detailed” work.

“Our members are truly humbled to accept and display this one of a kind custom piece of artwork that represents our devotion to the community which we serve,” the post stated, in part.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 35 says it would be “honored” to accept the “Thin Blue Line” flag. It also criticized Elrich and Acting Police Chief Marcus Jones.

“The working police officers of Montgomery County are highly offended by this act of outright disrespect for them and that flag which represents the sacrifices and dedication of police officers who daily risk their lives, health, limbs and own well-being in service to their community,” the FOP said in a statement released late Saturday night. “Too many have made the supreme sacrifice and we will not allow political pandering by Jones and Elrich to diminish their service.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) says he is “offended and disgusted” that Elrich has prohibited Montgomery County Police from displaying a “Thin Blue Line” flag.

“I have attended the funerals of fallen law enforcement officers across our state, and I take time to thank them every day for their dedicated service and sacrifice,” Hogan wrote in a series of tweets Sunday morning. “To outlaw these American flags from being hung in county buildings by law enforcement officers is outrageous and unconscionable.”

Gov. Hogan went on to say the same type of flag hangs in the Governor’s Mansion in Annapolis.

“I strongly call on Mr. Elrich to immediately reverse this terrible decision and to apologize to the police and the citizens of Montgomery County,” Hogan wrote on Twitter today.

No word yet from Elrich on whether or not he will reverse his decision to ban the thin blue line flag.

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Contributed by Sean Walton of The Daily Sheeple.

Sean Walton is a researcher and journalist for The Daily Sheeple. Send tips to sean.walton@thedailysheeple.com.

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Sean Walton is a researcher and journalist for The Daily Sheeple. Send tips to sean.walton@thedailysheeple.com.

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