Taunton, MA – The Thin Blue Line flag mural students painted outside the school resource officer’s (SRO) office at Taunton High School has been replaced at the demand of protesters who deemed it to be racist.
SROs and students painted the Thin Blue Line flag mural on the “Cop’s Corner” wall located in the SRO “study buddy” area during the 2018-2019 school year, TB Daily News reported.
The joint project was launched following the deaths of Yarmouth Police Officer Sean Gannon and Weymouth Police Officer Michael Chesna, both of whom were murdered in the line of duty in separate attacks in 2018, according to the paper.
The space is a place where students come to study and to hang out with their friends, TB Daily News reported.
But in January, someone started a petition demanding the pro-police memorial mural be removed from the school, the Taunton Daily Gazette reported.
Those supporting the petition denounced the Thin Blue Line flag, saying it has been flown at white supremacists rallies and that it opposes Black Lives Matter.
“What we’ve heard from the students, either present students and even former students, is that they don’t want the flag to be there, that it has a negative vibe and they think it should be removed,” Taunton Diversity Network Director April Cabrera Funches told WJAR.
“The negative vibe is not the support of the police. We fully support the police department and the work that they do,” Funches claimed. “But lately, that flag has been used to really promote and support white supremacy.”
“We do want to see better police relations with students,” she added. “We just think that if you’re going to put something up there, put the American flag.”
Beautiful support today in Taunton on behalf of students uncomfortable w/a thin blue line police flag mural inside THEIR school. All was peaceful and purposeful ✊🏼🖤🤎#blacklivesmatter #community pic.twitter.com/tuAXpNlNcV
— Melissa Costa (@MissLiss630) February 21, 2021
Meanwhile, those in opposition to the petition argued the effort to remove the symbol was part of “cancel culture,” the Taunton Daily Gazette reported.
They further argued the Thin Blue Line flag is intended to honor the sacrifices law enforcement officers make and has nothing to do with race.
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.
Those supporting the Thin Blue Line flag mural at Taunton High School began circulating a petition of their own after the controversy erupted, according to the Taunton Daily Gazette.
The opposing petitions both garnered hundreds of signatures.
Ultimately, school officials decided to paint a new mural over the top of the Thin Blue Line flag the SROs and students had created, the Taunton Daily Gazette reported.
The new design features an American flag with a quote from National Guard Sergeant William Carney, who was the first black soldier to receive the Medal of Honor, according to the paper.
The Taunton Police Department and Taunton Public Schools Superintendent John Cabral did not respond to multiple requests for comment regarding when the decision to do away with the Thin Blue Line flag was made, the Taunton Daily Gazette reported.