The mayor should fly the Thin Blue Line flag at City Hall.
Let me restate that.
The mayor is morally and legally obligated to fly the Thin Blue Line flag at City Hall.
The mayor in question is Lovely Warren and the City Hall is in Rochester, New York, and I come to this conclusion about the Thin Blue Line flag after passing City Hall yesterday while out running.
In front, are three flag poles, all of which were festooned with banners at half staff, as part of Andy Cuomo’s interminable order. On the left – to its right and in the proper place – was the flag of the United States. Next, in the center, was the flag of New York. On the third pole, to the right, were two flags. On top, was what I think is the transgender flag, and beneath that was a black and white banner with the words BLACK LIVES MATTER in block letters across the bottom.
In the center was a raised, clenched fist.
Which is really efficient.
In that, with some 700 sworn officers, it would be very time consuming and tiring to spit individually in every cop’s face, and shout eff-words at them all. So if you can do the same thing by flying one flag over the City Hall to which they report, think of all the effort you’ve saved.
Think of how dispiriting and insulting you’ve been to men and women who don’t want to do anything other than serve and protect.
Think of how that must feel to people who have in recent years buried one of their own and even now look on as one of the most beloved members of their department struggles to go forward in life without the vision he lost as the victim of a violent assault.
Last year, the firefighters did a calendar in which they showed off their muscles. Perhaps this year the police officers should do a calendar in which they show off their scars.
We see the resolute faces on the evening news, we don’t see the gunshot wounds and stabbing scars.
But let’s get back to the flags.
The Black Lives Matter movement is a political campaign tied to and funded by massive progressive donors and the electoral prospects of the Democratic Party. It is also a philosophical movement, certainly, and has been embraced broadly.
But it hasn’t been embraced universally, and it is innately political, seeking to impact not just elections but legislative action.
It is a political campaign.
And Lovely Warren is endorsing it. She is using public property to promote a political view.
And you can’t do that.
It doesn’t matter how woke you are. The slogan and imagery of a political campaign – whether affiliated with a candidate or not – is a political statement. And government, in a free society, can’t pick one over another.
Rather, what it gives to one side, it must give to the other. If City Hall flag poles have become venues of political speech, all citizens must have access to those venues.
What City Hall affords one group of citizens, it must afford all groups of citizens.
The government may not discriminate.
Which gets back to the Thin Blue Line flag. If a political attack on the police can fly from the City Hall flagpole, so can a political support. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. It turns out that the Fourteenth Amendment, and its guarantee of equal protection under law, is actually a thing.
So there it is. That’s the law of it.
But what about the wisdom of it.
Could it actually be that a banner of hatred for police has been hung from the pole outside the office of the mayor who employs and supervises the police? Doesn’t that banner, carried as a denunciation of the Rochester Police Department, indict the mayor who has had complete control over that department for the last fix years? If the police department is part of a system of oppression, isn’t its boss the oppressor?
That flag bears no correlation to the reality of the policing of the streets and neighborhoods of the city of Rochester. It is a lie. And it flies from an official flagpole of the city of Rochester.
So the truth deserves to fly as well.
Because while some clearly want to say, “We hate you, and damn you,” to the Rochester cops, others clearly also want to say, “We love you, and thank you.”
And the second group has as much right to be represented at City Hall as does the first group.
Lovely Warren needs to fly the Thin Blue Line flag at City Hall.