SF Police Officers Wear ‘Thin Blue Line’ Masks. Police Chief Then Tells Them To Stop It.

On Friday, San Francisco police officers who were sent to patrol a protest against the city’s high price of housing wore masks emblazoned with the “thin blue line flag,” a black-and-white American flag with a blue stripe across the middle. But then San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott sent an email to officers warning that although the “thin blue line” flag was “a meaningful expression to honor fallen officers,” others would find it “divisive and disrespectful.” He stated, “Thin Blue Line masks shall not be worn by our on-duty members.”
A row of cops line the house where two unhoused women are living, trying to stay safe during a global pandemic.
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Scott said the police should wear neutral face coverings from now on, asserting, “As an affirmation of the principle of safety with respect for all, we will replace the personal protective equipment to which some community members have objected.”
The Associated Press noted, “The police union president, Tony Montoya, said the union had shown the masks to Scott’s command staff, and several of them had asked for more than one. The blue line ‘represents law enforcement’s separation of order and chaos,’ he said.”
The San Francisco Examiner reported that prior to Scott’s statement, “When shown a video of a row of officers wearing the face masks, Supervisor Shamann Walton reserved judgment but said, ‘That looks more like something you see below the Mason Dixon Line.’”
Police Commissioner John Hamasaki emailed Scott that the masks were a “clear policy violation,” adding, “This raises real concerns for me about the battle for the heart and soul of the department. Are we moving forward or being dragged into the pre-reform days of SFPD?” He fired, “Without oversight, it appears that some in the department are openly flouting our policies, with the endorsement of the POA. Let’s not let the bad actors drag us back into the past.”
John Crew, a retired American Civil Liberties Union attorney, snapped that the juxtaposition lawyer of the “thin blue line” flag with the San Francisco Police Officers Association logo on the masks was “two issues combined. The thin blue line is a political symbol. And it’s a POA-branded mask. It’s like wearing a political button.” He opined that Scott and the police union have been at odds, then surmised, “It makes you wonder if it was some sort of stunt and if they were trying to provoke a controversy,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Examiner reported that Crew also stated, “The definition of a uniform is that its uniform. There is no option to add your own statements, affiliations, whatever. In addition to the flag, the masks feature an SFPOA logo. The POA is a political organization. They can’t alter their uniforms to say ‘POA’ anymore than they can alter their uniforms to say ‘ACLU’ or ‘Donald Trump.’ … It’s not just the message that it sends to the black community. It’s the message that it sends to San Francisco. The POA is still going to act like they don’t have to adhere of the policies of the department or the values of this city.” He concluded, “Who the heck in the command staff, anybody from sergeant and above who saw these masks, thought that this would be okay?”
The Chronicle continued, “Montoya, the police union president, was incensed by what he saw and Scott’s capitulation to ‘The haters who have made a cottage industry out of carping, complaining and stereotyping the police.’”

The blue line on the “thin blue line” flag is intended to represent law enforcement, standing between what is above the line, representing citizenry and order, from what is below the line, representing crime and anarchy.
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