July 28, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer
In response to a complaint received in an email, the Hingham Selectmen's office recently issued a directive calling for the removal of Thin Blue Line flags displayed on Hingham Fire Department apparatus.
However, in a Facebook post today by the Hingham Firefighters Local 2398, Union President Lt. Chris Melanson stated that the union's "support for our brothers and sisters in blue is unwavering. The flags have continued to fly with honor every day. They will have to be removed by someone other than a member of this union."
Melanson also explained in the post, "Thin Blue Line has existed for over 100 years. It has always, and will always, represent the men and women of law enforcement that hold the line between peace and chaos. Especially those who have bravely made the ultimate sacrifice during the performance of heroic duties. . . . "
The union is asking the town to reconsider its decision. "Otherwise, we regret to inform you that over the past four days [since the town asked for the flags to be removed] no member of Local 2398 was able to sacrifice his or her moral fortitude in order to remove the flags from the apparatus," according to the Facebook post.
In response to an email request from the Hingham Anchor asking about such a policy, Asst. Town Administrator Michelle Monsegur replied, "The Town of Hingham has a long-standing practice of only displaying official flags of the Nation, State, Town, and Military. As a result, when we were made aware of a banner being displayed on a Town asset that was inconsistent with this practice, we asked that it be removed." Fire Chief Steven Murphy and Police Chief Glenn Olsson backed the Selectmen's decision that the flags should be taken down.
While there have been many Facebook posts about whether or not the flags should be removed and whether they are political in nature, on both sides of the issue, Melanson further stated, "honoring the sacrifices made by the men and women of law enforcement is not political. Period."
Melanson also stated that "despite the frustration this has caused, the community has responded with an overwhelming outpouring of support for the members of Local 2398, Hingham Police officers, Weymouth Police officers, and the Chesna family."
The widow of a Weymouth police sergeant killed in the line of duty in 2018, Cindy Chesna, called demands to remove Thin Blue Line flags a sign of "utmost disrespect" to police in a recent Facebook post. "The Thin Blue Line flag is not a political statement and does not represent an opposition toward anything. It simply represents the police officers' role of separating the good from the bad while creating order from the chaos. This is what separates the world from them."
In response to a request for comment from the Hingham Unity Council, member Katie Sutton provided the following to the Hingham Anchor:
"The Hingham Unity Council was formed to encourage people to have meaningful, in-person discussions about our differences; to hear each other’s perspectives and experiences; to gain understanding; to promote empathy and support for all of our community members. The members of the HUC are distressed by the discourse on social media surrounding the Thin Blue Line flag displayed on Hingham fire trucks.
We urge everyone in the Hingham community to push their capacity for empathy a bit further and consider entering into a deeper, interpersonal dialogue beyond the world of social media. Let’s listen more and post less.
The Hingham Unity Council supports the current decision of our town officials to remove the Thin Blue Line flag from town property until there is a more complete understanding reached about the significance of its display and what it represents to all members of the Hingham community. In the upcoming months, the HUC will continue to present opportunities for this type of dialogue and exchange and hope you will join us."
An America 'Backs the Blue' event is scheduled for today, July 28, at Hingham Town Hall from 1 to 3 p.m. The 'Back the Blue' campaign focuses on building community support for local police officers.
11 thoughts on “America ‘Backs the Blue’ event today as firefighters refuse request to remove Thin Blue Line flags; Hingham Unity Council Responds”
Why didn’t the town object to the black and blue tape wrapped around every telephone pole on Main Street after the Officer Chesna shooting? Aren’t those town assets as well?
I see both sides of the issue: BLM and the Thin Blue Line. I also don’t see BLM as a Hingham Police issue as they, in my opinion, are well trained to de-escalate the situations they are presented with despite the fact that almost every situation they encounter could be a fateful one. Let the flag stand.
I’m sure many people support Hingham’s police officers, and many people probably personally know some of them and know that they are good people. Everyone needs a support system of some kind, police included, especially now, when so many people think that supporting police is anti-BLM and therefore racist. This is to support the policemen and women of your town. If you don’t want to support the police in your town because you’re following the rhetoric of “ACAB” and you think that coming out to support the men and women in your town is supporting the corrupt justice system, I think it’s still important to support all the good people in that system, especially in a time like this. Straight up calling the event “Back the Blue” might’ve been a bit controversial and not the best way to phrase it since, as I said, some people might not want to support a corrupt justice system, but I still think it’s important to support your local officers. The Thin Blue Line flag could be seen as more political than just supporting your local officers though, so maybe they should reconsider that.
We the people, the taxpayers paid for the town assets. The town admins are there to babysit them.Remember who you work for! We the People of Hingham.
The Hingham School system voted to and carried out the display of the Rainbow flag on all hingham schools for an entire month. In many instances right next to the American flag. Was that in line with the town’s “practice”?
Decisions about flags at schools are decided by the school committee, which approved it this past June in a special meeting after being proposed by the chair of the committee. So yes, it was in line with the town’s practice. The flags in all other areas of the town are decided by the selectmen.
It sounds like the school department went through a thoughtful process. However, school is town owned property correct? So what your implying is that the Schools are the only town owned buildings that enjoy autonomy in decisions of flag flying?
Not sure about Hingham, but in my town the schools are their own weird special pieces of property. The fields can only be managed by the DPW, but the use of the fields is managed by the Rec Dept. The town collects property taxes and allocates some of that $ to the school district, however what the district does with that money is up to the school board. Really all decisions related to schools and school property are board decisions – except for when they have to go to town voters to get a referendum approved for major capital expenses. It’s strange to say the least.
Hi! The flying of the rainbow flags was voted on by the school committee, as done by town practice. If you read the June 4, 2020 minutes for the school committee, you can understand the process behind the unanimous vote. The Philadelphia pride flag represents acceptance and support for LGBTQ+ people and people of color. Acceptance is something which the Hingham schools strive for. Unfortunately, the blue line flag has more negative connotations. Though it may have been originally intended to honestly support police officers, it has been used often instead to represent opposition to the black lives matter movement, which is working to improve the lives of people of color within our country. So flying the flag is now a more problematic act. Additionally, there was no vote on whether the flags could be flown on town property, unlike the pride flags. It’s okay to support your local police, it’s just important to do so in non-harmful and educated ways. Hope that helps!
I understand your viewpoints and please understand that the Thin Blue Line isa completely separate entity from “blue lives matter” flag. It was the blue lives matter flag that was used by right wing groups, not the thin blue line. The thin blue line is 100 years old and has never been political and shouldn’t be declared as such based off the opinions of a few. Please reconsider your view of the thin blue line.
I hope the Police and Fire Chiefs have learned a valuable lesson over this flag issue. One citizen wrote an email and P & F leadership folded like a cheap tent. Rather than staying “above the fray” as the chief was attempting to do, he put himself squarely in the middle of it and it has escalated. Perhaps a kindly written email response to Max explaining that the flags honored fallen heroes and were not anti-BLM flags would have settled the issue. Lesson learned chiefs. Next time be oak trees instead of blades of grass. Our officers and firemen/women deserved better from you.
The Thin Blue Line is not “blue lives matter”. This flag has been flown at Fallen Police officers funerals for 100 years. It is not ok to allow a few extremely wealthy individuals to decide to change the meaning behind it. The Thin Blue Line is flown in commemoration of fallen minority officers with just has much honor. This flag is among the last things families of slain police officers see has they say good bye to their loved ones. This is why Police, fire and their families feel so passionately about it. Please have an open mind when you look at this flag has it is not in any way against any other group other than those who perpetuate evil in this world.