Allentown, PA – Muhlenberg College administrators have removed “Thin Blue Line” masks from the school’s bookstore after the college’s Office of Multicultural Life declared it was “outraged and deeply offended” that the store would carry pro-police items.
The Muhlenberg College Office of Multicultural Life announced in an Instagram post on Aug. 14 that it acted swiftly after students complained about “American Flag masks with black, white, and blue colors” labeled, “Tactical US Flag with Police blue line…” that were for sale at the college’s book store.
“For those who are unaware this particular design is a direct affiliation with the group, Blue Lives Matter, which is a counter movement to the Black Lives Matter Movement,” the multicultural office claimed. “The Black Lives Matter Movement advocates against police brutality and other forms of systemic racism that targets Black bodies.”
The Office of Multicultural Life said it “was outraged and deeply offended” by the presence of the Thin Blue Line masks at the bookstore, and noted that the college had released multiple statements endorsing the Black Lives Matter movement in the past.
“WE MUST HOLD THEM TO THOSE STATEMENTS,” the post read. “The Office of Multicultural Life immediately called for the removal of this offensive display.”
According to the multicultural office, Muhlenberg College President Kathleen Harring and Dean Allison Gulati yanked the masks from the school store’s shelves just 30 minutes after the office demanded they do so.
The multicultural office said it was “comforting” to know that the pro-police masks were no longer available at the campus store, but said it was still concerned about “how this offensive propaganda found itself within the store in the first place.”
Unsatisfied, the office announced that it has “called for further action” and will be scheduling a meeting with school administrators and bookstore staff “to further discuss the incident and to promote accountability.”
Muhlenberg College Chief Business Officer and Treasurer Kent Dyer subsequently issued an email to the campus community, claiming the Thin Blue Line is linked with “alt right” and “white supremacist” groups, Campus Reform reported.
“[It is] a symbol that seeks to discount and erase concerns related to police brutality and other aspects of the Black Lives Matter [Movement],” Dyer declared. “Having this merchandise in the College store is inconsistent with our institutional values.”
Dyer further assured students that college administrators would be meeting with bookstore staff and the multicultural office “to discuss the impact of the incident.”
“The College stands in firm support of Black Lives Matter and its goals of valuing the Black members of our communities and ensuring we do all we can to be more anti-racist,” he added, according to Campus Reform.
Critics have alleged that the Thin Blue Line flag was created in opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement.
But the Thin Blue Line flag was created long before Black Lives Matter ever existed, and the term “thin blue line” has been popular with law enforcement officers since the 1950s.
“Thin Blue Line flags are just flags that express support for law enforcement. They have no direct connection to any Blue Lives Matter organization outside of their original meaning to show support for police,” The Police Tribune Editor-in-Chief, and Blue Lives Matter co-founder Christopher Berg explained.
Muhlenberg College senior Ariel Abergel blasted school administrators for “linking the thin blue line to white supremacists,” and said that they were “clearly trying to foster division and sow hatred within the student body,” Campus Reform reported.
Abergel accused the school of “spreading lies.”
“The thin blue line is not affiliated with any one group, it has no racist undertones and it certainly does not represent a [Black Lives Matter] counter movement,” he said, noting that the college’s statements to the contrary were “rooted in falsehoods.”
Statements made by Muhlenberg leaders are nothing less than “a proclamation that Muhlenberg College views police officers as villains,” Abergel added.
“Publicly desecrating the image of law enforcement, shaming police officers and linking those of us who support them to white supremacists and neo-Nazis is where we should draw the line,” he told Campus Reform. “No academic institution should get away with such dangerous rhetoric and open discrimination.”
He further pointed out that the school’s stance has been “a demeaning slap in the face to the many law enforcement families who send their kids to Muhlenberg and pay Dean Gulati’s salary.”