SOLON, Ohio — The Solon Police Department has removed the “Thin Blue Line” flag from its property after receiving a “divisive and unhealthy” reaction within the community, Chief Richard A. Tonelli said in a written statement posted to the department's Facebook page. The department will replace it with the National Law Enforcement Memorial flag, according to the mayor.
Tonelli said, “it is unfortunate that the thin blue line imagery has been associated with extreme and dismissive views that are counter to our values; nonetheless, we are sensitive to the fact that it alienates us from those we are committed to serve and protect.”
The “Thin Blue Line” flag, which resembles a U.S. flag but has a blue stripe, is considered a symbol of support and solidarity with members of law enforcement. For decades, it’s been used to celebrate police officers, but in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and its call to end police brutality against people of color, the flag has taken on a different meaning for some, according to Politico Magazine.
Tonelli continued to say that while the “Thin Blue Lline” flag represents support for law enforcement, he recognized it’s a symbol of opposition to the racial justice movement.
“It was never our intention to heighten tensions," Tonelli said. "It is important for us to maintain the trust between our officers and citizens.”
Read the full statement below:
Solon's mayor, Edward Kraus, issued a statement on Tuesday about the situation.
"It seems a few of our residents took chief Tonelli's raising of the 'Thin Blue Line' flag on department property to mean something that was clearly not intended. Frankly, this is a product of our current environment and one that tarnishes even the best intentions," Kraus said.
He continued, "In the interests of the narrowing the focus of dialogue strictly on supporting our officers, I requested the removal of the current 'Thin Blue Line' Flag in hopes another symbol might be better suited."
The city said it will be replacing the "Thin Blue Line" flag with the National Law Enforcement Memorial flag, which is a blue badge with a red rose across it.
"I appreciate chief Tonelli's openness and initiative in securing the National Law Enforcement Memorial Flag for display on police grounds," Kraus said. "Our citizens will find this flag, whose sole purpose is memorializing those who lost their lives in the duty of service, to speak for supporting our great and honored police department."
You can read the mayor's full statement below:
RELATED: Click here for more information on the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund.
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