Williams, CA – The photographer who captured the stunning image of Davis Police Officer Natalie Corona posing with a Thin Blue Line Flag said that the then-aspiring officer came up with the theme of the photo shoot on her own as a tribute to the sacrifices made by law enforcement.
“I would like this photograph to serve as my gratitude for all those law enforcement men and women who have served, who are currently serving, and those who have died in the line of duty protecting our liberties in this great country,” Officer Corona wrote on her Facebook page on Oct. 21, 2016.
The 22-year-old officer had been patrolling the streets on her own for just two weeks when she was murdered by 48-year-old Kevin Douglas Limbaugh as she was investigating a car crash on Thursday night.
After Limbaugh assassinated Corona, he shot at a firefighter before he calmly walked to his home, KTVU reported.
Police found the suspected gunman dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound several hours later.
Photographer Rich Laus said that had known Officer Corona long before she joined the force, KTVU reported.
She was working at a fruit stand at the time, and Laus was always looking for photogenic models for portrait shoots, he said.
The iconic photo was from the first photography session they did together.
“She chose the outfit,” he recalled. “She chose the flag.”
Wearing a royal blue dress and black high heels, Officer Corona posed confidently and effortlessly as she stood in the center of Leesville Grade Road in Colusa County.
It was the same county where her father served as a deputy for 26 years.
Laus said he photographed Officer Corona many more times in the years that followed, and that he plans to share the images with the slain officer’s family.
The image has been widely shared in the wake of Officer Corona’s death.
In a Facebook post on Friday, The Associated Students, University of California, Davis, (ASUCD) Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission declared that the true meaning behind the photo was “racist,” and that the mere sight of law enforcement officers can be “triggering to many Black and Brown people.”
“First and foremost, we would like to send our deepest condolences to the police officer’s family,” the statement said before explaining why the murdered officer’s photo is racist.
“We would also like to provide resources for students triggered by this event and the circulating images of a flag that has been popularized by the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ crowd,” their statement said. “We see it necessary to call-out all community members who continue to post and disseminate images of the Blue Lives Matter flag online.”
“In addition, there has been the circulation of an image of the police officer with the Blue Lives Matter flag,” the commission wrote, before going into a false history of Blue Lives Matter.
The flag they are referring to is an American Thin Blue Line Flag, which is often colloquially referred to as a Blue Lives Matter flag. Activists frequently use the “Blue Lives Matter flag” name in an attempt to discredit support for law enforcement by attempting to tie it to Blue Lives Matter, which they also attempt to discredit with false claims of racism.
Blue Lives Matter’s only actual connection to the Thin Blue Line Flag is that the flag shows support for law enforcement, and Blue Lives Matter uses the flag to show support for law enforcement.
“The flag is blatantly anti-Black and disrespectful,” the student group concluded.
The commission also provided resources for students “triggered” by the sight of law enforcement.
Not all students in ASUCD appear to share the commission’s belief about law enforcement.
ASUCD President Michael Gofman posted a response to the commission, writing, “It’s easy to sit on the third floor of the Memorial Union when there are at least 100 brave men and women in blue between you and the shooter. It is easy to argue hypotheticals, politics, and ideology when you’re in safety. I am ashamed that some of these same people, protected by the very officers that they are condemning, have the audacity to politicize the loss of a young officer. [H]er only crime was being a police officer.”
“I wholeheartedly condemn the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs commission for this disgusting post, and urge them to take it down and issue an apology,” Gofman concluded.
The ASUCD commission’s Facebook page was taken down Saturday after the community reacted with outrage to their post.
UC Davis held a candlelight vigil for Officer Corona on Saturday night which included the photo that the commission deemed to be racist.