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CA city discussed photographing ‘racist’ symbols, Blue Line flags on private property for online ‘inventory’

A "thin blue line" flag. (Joe Warner | For NJ Advance Media/TNS)
December 16, 2020

Thin Blue Line and Confederate flags on private property could be photographed and “inventoried” by the city of Livermore, Calif., according to notes from a city council committee subgroup meeting last month.

During the meeting of the Community Culture and Representations subgroup, city council members called to expand an existing project that seeks to “identify symbols, artwork, objects, artifacts, etc.” in the city “that represent and signify systemic racism as well as symbols, etc. that signify equity and inclusion.”

The notes called on subgroup members to take photos of symbols in their neighborhoods and citywide, documenting the existence of the Confederate flag, Thin Blue Line flag and “inclusive signs” on private property. The photos would then be uploaded to a shared Google Doc.

“Expand the scope of the properties, symbols, etc. to be inventoried to the entire City, not just those that are City owned,” the notes said.

In an effort to continue increasing the scope of the project, the notes also said non-City owned properties should be contacted and other organizations partnered with in an effort to “educate and influence.”

The notes said, “This might include the development of a template/checklist for organizations to follow, enabling these organizations to be “partners” in creating an inclusive city.”

After the inventory is collected, the group is considering a number of actions to take in response, including education, policy changes or “persuasion to address symbols that reflect and perpetuate systemic racism, while promoting symbols that reflect and perpetuate equality and inclusion.”

The outcome of the subcommittee meeting yielded backlash on social media. One critic of the meeting posted on Facebook calling on city residents to “stand up for your rights.”

“Time to stand up for your rights Livermore residents,” her post stated. “I cannot believe that the city council is trying to control what we put in our yards. If I want to put up a flag that honors fallen police officers it’s my god given right to do so.”

Time to stand up for your rights Livermore residents. I cannot believe that the city council is trying to control what…

Posted by Melody Aranguren on Sunday, December 13, 2020

According to the Police Tribune, Councilmember Trish Munro said the subgroup was created in response to protests that formed following the death of George Floyd while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department on May 25.

Responding to the backlash, Monroe said the meeting notes had been “misconstrued,” adding that any photos from private property would be cropped to exclude identifying marks.

She also said the notes were incomplete and do not mean that the city views Thin Blue Line flags as symbols of hate, but it was on the list because it “makes some people feel bad.”

“It was notes of a brainstorming session and not everything said in that brainstorming session was captured,” Munro explained. “We screwed up. We should have vetted that more carefully. Trust me, there were other things on that list. The goal here was not to dox somebody or collect data on them. I understand the concern but I’m a little flummoxed by it because this is a project of the community group – the goal was to include everyone in the conversation.”

Monroe added that the confusion was caused by committee members attempting to be too transparent by posting incomplete notes.

“It would go a long way if community members would realize that the intention was good even if the execution wasn’t,” Monroe told The Police Tribune.