Selectman Joseph Fisher issues new statement regarding Thin Blue Line flag display

Joe Fisher
Joseph Fisher, Hingham Board of Selectmen (photo by Joshua Ross)
July 28, 2020
Joseph M. Fisher, Member of the Hingham Board of Selectmen and Liaison to the Hingham Police Department, provided the following statement to the Hingham Anchor. 

The Board of Selectmen has consistently supported our public safety departments. We have a proud history of recognizing and valuing the contributions made by the men and women who serve the Town with distinction and honor.

In recent months we have seen protests around the country in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, with increasing questions about the role of police in society, and a growing call among some activists to "defund the police." Indeed, at our Town Meeting held last month there was a citizen “hold” placed on our proposed budget for the Police Department. In response, the Board of Selectmen stood with our men and women in blue. I stood up, on behalf of the Board, to acknowledge the issues of racial and social justice that have motivated calls for increased scrutiny of police budgets in numerous cities across the country. I further stated, in unequivocal language, that those concerns were not justified in Hingham because, in our Town, police officers perform to a high level of professionalism, are sensitive to issues of fairness and justice in our community, and they are ultimately accountable to the Board of Selectmen on matters of policy and discipline. I concluded my statement with a pledge that the Board would remain vigilant and would respond with care and compassion to residents who might come forward with concerns about racial and social justice.

Last week a resident did come forward with a concern. He sent an email to the Board of Selectmen that questioned whether the “Thin Blue Line” flag should be displayed on a fire truck. He stated: “The thin blue line flag has undoubtedly become a political symbol, most often used to counter Black Lives Matter and the fight against rampant police brutality. While Hingham is blessed with a remarkable police force and these problems may not be as relevant to our quiet little town, the symbols are still representative of issues that our country is confronting as a whole.”

The resident reminded us that just a month ago the Board of Selectmen had refused a request to fly the rainbow flag (also known as the gay pride flag or LGBTQ+ pride flag) on Town property. Why, then, was the Thin Blue Line Flag allowed? In fact, the Board had made its decision to decline flying the rainbow flag not because we didn’t support its message of inclusivity, but because of the Town’s long-standing practice to limit flag displays on Town property to the flag of the United States of America, the flag of the Commonwealth, the Town of Hingham flag, the POW MIA flag, a flag in memory of veterans of World War I, as well as flags flown to commemorate Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15th of each year. The Town’s flag practice had been explained by Town Counsel in a public session of the Board of Selectmen in June.

The resident’s request to remove the Thin Blue Line flag from the fire truck was forwarded to the Fire Chief. I understand that the Fire Chief consulted with the Police Chief and the Town Administrator, each of whom recognized that displaying the Thin Blue Line flag was inconsistent with the Town’s flag practice. Their decision was not based on any ill will towards our police heroes. It did not reflect a decision to belittle the sacrifices made by those who put their lives at risk each day. Rather, the decision represented the consistent implementation of the Town’s

practice concerning the public display of only official flags on Town property. This was a practice that had been applied in the prior month to the rainbow flag, with the same result.

No group has more respect for the men and women of the Police Department than the Board of Selectmen. We demand a commitment to public service combined with high levels of skills and an appreciation of the sensitivity needed to deliver public safety in a challenging environment. In return, we pledge our ongoing support and appreciation. To highlight the importance of public safety, the Board of Selectmen is currently on track to call for a Special Town Meeting this fall to request funds for the purchase of property to construct a state-of- the-art public safety complex to serve as the new Police Headquarters and North Fire Station. We plan to proceed with the public safety complex, despite financial constraints imposed by the current pandemic, because of the high priority we place on the needs of the police and fire departments.

While there is room for discussion about the best ways to show appreciation and support for our public safety personnel, there is no place in Hingham for the hate and vitriol that have been targeted towards the resident who asked us to look into public displays of the Thin Blue Line flag. In the last week he has received numerous threats against his property and his life. The harassment is ceaseless and vicious. And it has recently expanded to target the welfare and safety of his family. Such conduct debases any attempt at public discourse and makes hypocrites of those who would call for respect for public safety officers while simultaneously threatening the safety of others. When petitioning the Board of Selectmen leads to name calling, character assignation, intimidation and threats of physical violence, this only serves to deface all flags that we might choose to display in honor of our peace officers.

Our support for the men and women who serve this Town is unwavering.

Joseph M. Fisher
Member of the Hingham Board of Selectmen Liaison to the Hingham Police Department


7 thoughts on “Selectman Joseph Fisher issues new statement regarding Thin Blue Line flag display”

  1. 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.

  2. Thank you for your response and as a resident of Hingham and raised in Hingham just think there should be an other solution a blue line on a fire truck be taken down . if that letter was not sent do not think anyone would ever think about it. Sorry for the young man for being offended but I think he needs something else to worry about and spend his time on something else. Widow of a Navy Veteran.

  3. I feel heartsick over the treatment of this young man. People hating and harnessing him are demonstrating the exact opposite of the kind of behavior and acceptance that Hingham should stand for. He wrote a well written letter inquiring about something he thought wasn’t right. Isn’t that what citizens In a democracy should be allowed to do regardless of whether others may disagree? He didn’t use inflammatory rhetoric or demand anything. He explained what he observed and asked for change. The senseless threats against him and his family is unacceptable and I’m embarrassed to live in a place where citizens treat each other so poorly. The people who are attacking him because they disagree with his point of view should be ashamed of themselves. We (especially adults) should be able to disagree and still be kind. Stop the hate and set an example for our youth.

    • I agree. The kid should not be attacked. However the town should not bow to his every little whim. BTW how does everyone on these responses know who this kid is? Could the town have leaked the information?

  4. The young man who spoke out does not deserve to be attacked. He has a right to his opinion . I disagree with the decision of the Hingham officials .

  5. There are 22,999 people in town and one misguided kid doesn’t like something because it’s a “political statement”. and the flag comes down? If the town continues to bend on crap like this we’ll end up like a mini Portland, run by uninformed lunatics. Please stop this madness!

  6. Dear Selectman,
    Well written letter. I support freedom of speech from this young man. I support our local police and fire fighters. I believe that they act in good faith and with exceptional professionalism. I agree with Mike H. in that we as a collective community should decide on what is good practice and the town selectman, the fire chief and the police chief did that as they come together and regrouped on what flags are to be flown on town property. I also believe that flying a blue line flag during the anniversary of a fallen officer, is an act of respect to the fallen officer and his family, as has been done according to the written articles, for 100 years, not as an act of politics.


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