Police officers in San Francisco have been told not to wear face masks with the “Thin Blue Line” pattern on them.
San Francisco Police Department Chief Bill Scott told officers not to wear the masks, saying that they could be viewed as “divisive” and “disrespectful,” Fox News reported. The Thin Blue Line is a popular logo commemorating police officers, who risk their lives serving their communities.
Police officers have been wearing masks in order to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus, which has infected about 1.2 million people in the United States. The masks were distributed by the San Francisco Police Officers Association.
“The San Francisco Police Department stands for safety with respect for all, and in consideration of concerns some community members have expressed that ‘thin blue line’ symbolism on some of our officers’ face masks may be perceived as divisive or disrespectful, we are taking steps with our officers and the Police Officers Association to provide alternative, neutral personal protective equipment,” Scott said in a statement. “In the midst of a global pandemic that has seen far too many first responders lose their lives, across the nation and around the world, it’s important to remember that the masks our officers wear were meant to honor all who make the ultimate sacrifice for the people we serve.”
“Thin Blue Line masks shall not be worn by our on-duty members,” he wrote in an email to Fox News 2 San Francisco.
Some San Francisco police officers made headlines for wearing the masks at the protest on Friday, as media outlets described the Thin Blue Line logo as “controversial.”
The police officers were called to work a May Day protest by homelessness activists at an abandoned building who were blocking roads and being disruptive. The protest was started by ReclaimSF, which advocates for San Francisco to “turn over all vacant homes to house the thousands of San Franciscans sleeping outside and in shelters.”
The National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial, a nonprofit dedicated to telling the story of American Law Enforcement and making it safer for those who serve, has called the Thin Blue Line a “meaningful expression to honor fallen officers,” a statement which Scott acknowledged.
Some individuals believe the Thin Blue Line logo is controversial because it is a symbol of the “Blue Lives Matter” movement, which is a movement that aims to show support for police officers’ lives. The movement was created after the “Black Lives Matter” movement, which caused several riots across the country and resulted in the deaths of several police officers, including five officers in Dallas in 2016.
Shamann Walton, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, likened the police officers wearing the Thin Blue Line masks to supporters of slavery, saying, “that looks more like something you see below the Mason Dixon Line.”
The San Francisco Police Officers Association said on Wednesday that it has received calls from around the nation in support of the masks, prompting them to begin selling them to the public. Proceeds will benefit the organization’s scholarship fund for members’ children.