In California, cops banned from pro-police speech but pro-BLM speech is mandatory
A California Highway Patrol division in Southern California prohibited officers this month from displaying Thin Blue Line items, meant to honor law enforcement. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Police Department is decorating its precincts with materials celebrating Black Lives Matter, an organization calling for the defunding of the police.
The CHP memo, a roll call briefing document with the Border Division dated Aug. 14, directed officers to “remove all Thin Blue Line paraphernalia, including anything resembling it … immediately. This includes any paraphernalia hung anywhere in the office, stickers/patches on State or personal property that may be seen by the public during the course of duties, and email signature blocks.”
The Thin Blue Line, depicted as a black and white U.S. flag with a blue stripe, represents the sacrifices that law enforcement make to protect the public and prevent civil unrest. Civilians display the symbol to show their support for the nation’s authorities. Progressive activists, however, liken the symbol to white supremacy and police misconduct.
A California police officer who reviewed the document said it amounted to an official order because of the use of the word “shall.”
“It’s all political so I understand why they sent it out,” he said.
Given the sensitive nature of the matter, there’s a reason the mandate was not sent out as an official public memorandum, a CHP representative in the field said. However, he said the directive came from the commissioner’s office in CHP headquarters.
“CHP wants to stay neutral and not appear to endorse any particular group,” he said.
A representative from the commissioner’s office said the memo, which was leaked to Press California, was not an official directive.
“The item … was included as part of a shift briefing for one area command within Border Division and has since been rescinded since it was a misinterpretation of department policy,” said Fran Clader, CHP’s Director of Communications in Sacramento.
“[It] was intended as a generic reminder to personnel to refrain from promoting any social cause on state property or equipment visible to the public,” she continued. “The advisement does not pertain to personally owned items. “
San Francisco seems to have missed that memo. SFPD weeks ago unveiled prominent Black Lives Matter messages to display in police stations. Few would disagree with the phrase, but the organization is another story. It has conducted campaigns nationwide to defund the police and its supporters have led protests in which officers have been attacked, injured and killed.
The San Francisco Police Commission, made up of civilians, passed the resolution requiring the BLM displays.
“The poster employs the Pan-African colors of red, yellow, green, and black in lettering related to Black lives matter terminology,” the SFPD wrote in a press release.
Not everyone was impressed.
“For me, they’re like absolutely meaningless. These are just platitudes and it’s just tokenism,” Kaylah Williams, an organizer for the Defund SFPD Now Campaign, told KGO News.