Custom merchandise that includes “Thin Blue Line” symbols intended as “gifts” to OPP officers emerging out of Caledonia, Ontario, has some residents concerned.
White nationalists briefly adopted the phrase itself but what is troubling is the “Us vs Them” mentality that it creates between First Nation, Black communities and Police.
The Back Story
The symbol itself dates back to the Crimean war and, more specifically, a romanticized version of the British success over Russian troops. The Red Coats immortalized as the thin red line in that version. It’s a version that paints a picture of the British acting alone when this was not the case.
The Thin blue line was popularized in the 1950s when corruption and Police street justice were a fact of life in marginalized communities. But, unfortunately, violence is a reality that persists within the LAPD today.
“The Los Angeles Police Department – In 1952, a grand jury succeeded in convicting five of the officers involved in several beatings within the Mexican community, and none of them received a sentence amounting to more than a year in prison. Then there was the Rodney King beating of 1991. King was beaten by police officers after a high-speed car chase. Though the beating was captured on camera, the police weren’t charged.”BET
Politicians Aren’t Helping.
Repeated attempts to divide people in the already fragile community environment by city officials, including the Police services board, only serve to escalate tensions in the relationships between police and people of colour.
Many Police Services have advised its members against wearing any controversial symbols on their uniforms, including Spokesperson and OPP Sergent Kerry Schmidt.
“Members of the OPP shall not wear any non-issued OPP uniform items. We must remain and demonstrate neutrality and remain non-partisan. There have not been any direct references to ‘the thin blue line’,”Kerry Schmidt, OPP Sergent
We’ve reached out to the Haldimand OPP detachment to confirm uniform guidelines and await comment.
The last thing needed is another line to divide.