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‘Thin Blue Line’: What does an American flag with a blue line mean?

The “Thin Blue Line” stands for law enforcement’s separation of order from chaos, or, as Oxford Dictionaries describes, it’s a reference to police, “in the context of maintaining order during unrest.”

Yet, during the Charlottesville protests on Saturday — a screaming example of mayhem— the proud symbol of police appeared amid a sea of white supremacists.

A black-and-white American flag with a thin blue line across its center appeared among the Confederate flags toted by the white supremacists and neo-Nazis during the violent protests.

At least one maker of the flag condemned its use in Charlottesville.

“We reject, in the strongest possible terms, any association of our flag with racism, hatred, and bigotry,” said Thin Blue Line USA in a statement. “To use it in such a way tarnishes what it and our nation believe in. The thin blue line flag stands for the sacrifice law enforcement officers of this nation make each day. We ask our nation to hold faith with those that defend the thin blue line.”
The company started making the flags in 2014, donating a portion of its sales to law enforcement non-profits. In addition to flags, they sell thin blue line t-shirts, tank tops and children’s clothes. The use of it by white supremacists runs counter to its message.

“We want to get rid of that rivalry between law enforcement and citizens,” said Pete Forhan, the company’s vice president.

Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, said the thin blue line “holds us together” and “protects us.”

The organization represents about 241,000 rank-and-file law enforcement officers across the United States.

“No police department, no official police group would ever go in there and raise their flag for that type of demonstration,” Johnson said.

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