Washington, DC – A gay sports bar in the nation’s capital took down an American thin blue line flag and apologized on Saturday for having flown it.
Nellie’s Sports Bar, located at 900 U St., NW, was hosting an LGBT police officers’ group at their establishment and so to welcome the officers, they ran a thin blue line flag up one of the flagpoles above their entrance, the same way they’d had an Irish flag up for St. Patrick’s Day.
A thin blue line flag is an expression of support for law enforcement, and it is not affiliated with any particular law enforcement agency or organization.
But WTTG reported that shortly after the blue line flag was hoisted, somebody told the bar’s management that a blue line flag was a “Blue Lives Matter” flag, and cited it as an opposing movement to Black Lives Matter, who many in the LGBT community support.
“Soon after the flag was hoisted, we learned from our customers and the community that this flag is also used to undermine the work of the Black Lives Matter movement, and we promptly removed it,” Nellie’s wrote in the apology posted to their Facebook page.
If they had checked, the management of Nellie’s would have learned what the flag they’d flown actually meant. Instead, they rushed to humbly apologize and beg for forgiveness from Black Lives Matter supporters.
“We in no way meant to state that we are opposed to the Black Lives Matter movement, especially in the wake of Stephon Clark's tragic death and the disturbing new facts coming to light in the Alton Sterling case,” the bar wrote in the apology.
“We now understand that flying this flag – at this point in time, in particular – was at best tone deaf, and at worst offensive. We sincerely apologize to our customers and our neighbors for this egregious mistake, and want to assure you that this flag will never fly at Nellie's again. What it represents to you is not what we want to represent, or what we want our bar to be,” the post finished.
This certainly wasn’t the first time that the act of flying a blue line flag has been attacked; however, usually the people or entity flying the flag defend their actions.
In this case, Nellie’s understood what the flag meant when they put it up, and they took it down because people who hate the police complained.
But Nellie’s didn’t just apologize for their actions. The bar also announced they were going to make a donation to make up for supporting police.
“We messed up. There is no excuse. We will learn from this and try harder to make Nellie's the safe, welcoming space for all that we want it to be. Thank you for teaching us this important lesson. We want to make this better -- so we will be sending a donation to No Justice No Pride, and recommitting ourselves to learning more every day,” Nellie’s posted on its Facebook page.
Nellie’s suffered blowback from both Black Lives Matter and police supporters after the incident.
The bar was repeatedly accused of failing the black community by not having properly researched the meaning of the blue line flag prior to flying it in messages on its Facebook page; however, all of those complaints assumed the blue line flag meant anti-Black Lives Matter, which it does not.
Police supporters expressed their anger and frustration on the page as well.
“The thin blue line undermines BLM the same way the Pride flag undermines straight people,” Dom Martorelli posted underneath Nellie’s apology.
“It would’ve been nice if Nellies would’ve educated themselves about that flag instead of going off of hearsay from someone’s opinion. That’s ok, myself and LGBTQ officers can always spend our money elsewhere at other establishments especially during National Police Week,” Roger James posted, referring to the week in May when law enforcement officers from around the country descend on the nation’s capital to remember fallen officers and celebrate their legacy.
Blue Lives Matter reached out to Nellie's Sports Bar for comment but did not receive a response.