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IL town calls police ‘thin blue line’ a ‘symbol of hate,’ votes to remove from cops’ uniforms

A "thin blue line" flag. (Joe Warner | NJ Advance Media/TNS)
August 12, 2021

An Illinois village board narrowly voted on Tuesday to order its police department to remove “thin blue line” patches from officers’ uniforms, after saying the symbol is connected to extremist groups and is used as a “symbol of hate.”

According to the Chicago Daily Herald, the patch resembles the “thin blue line” pro-police symbol that typically features a black-and-white American flag with a single blue stripe in the middle.

Mount Prospect, Illlinois, trustees Peggy Pissarreck, Colleen Saccotelli, Augie Filippone, and Terri Gens voted to remove the patch. Trustees John Matuszak and Richard Rogers and Mayor Paul Hoefert, on the other hand, wanted to keep it.

The Herald reported supporters of the “thin blue line” emblem said it honors law enforcement who have died in the line of duty, while opponents said it has been hijacked by extremist organizations and is intimidating to people of color.

“They can tear our patch off our arm, but they will never take what’s in our heart,” police Chief John Koziol said following the 4-3 vote by the village board. “The men and women of the Mount Prospect Police Department will always honor our fallen brothers and sisters in law enforcement.”

Koziol, along with two officers, defended the patch during an appearance on Fox News in June, and Matuszak said assertions linking the blue lives matter flag to Nazi or Klu Klux Klan imagery are wrong, noting that his own grandmother died in a Nazi concentration camp.

“There is absolutely no history that the blue lives matter patch was developed to encourage racism, segregation or white supremacy,” he said.

Contrasing Matuszak, his fellow trustee Saccotelli said the thin blue line symbol has been used by “some bad actors in some of the most horrendous times in our most recent history.”

“Meanings and symbols can change,” she said. “Mount Prospect does not exist in a vacuum. We are influenced by events and actions outside of our town. When our symbol meanings change, we must adapt to better serve our customers, all the people of Mount Prospect.”

Rogers, who also supported keeping the patch, said the effort to remove the symbol stems from political agendas seeking to defund the police.

“There is a group that have a political agenda to defund the police or corrupt our criminal justice system. There is no place in Mount Prospect for partisan politics,” he said. “This board is here to govern the village of Mount Prospect. It is not here to make political statements. It is not here to support cancel culture.”

“To say that this flag is a symbol of hate is a slap in the face to all law enforcement officers and their loved ones that look upon this symbol with reverence,” Koziol said.