Mount Prospect, IL – After making the decision to redesign the Village of Mount Prospect’s annual sticker honoring its police department because of the Thin Blue Line flag featured on it, the mayor has backtracked and now says they will allow residents to purchase whichever sticker they prefer.
Initially, village leadership caved to complaints about the police flag featured on the town’s annual sticker, and promised to stop sales of the pro-police sticker while they order new ones.
But on Monday, Mount Prospect Mayor Arlene Juracek announced that the village had come to a compromise, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Every year, the village chooses a different facet of itself to promote on their annual car decal that is sold to citizens, according to the Daily Herald.
Last year, the sticker highlighted the local library. This year, the sticker was supposed to promote the Mount Prospect Police Department.
The 2019-2020 sticker featured a Mount Prospect police badge superimposed over an image of a village water tower and downtown streetscape, with a Thin Blue Line flag as the background of the badge.
But when the stickers were released, some residents complained that the Thin Blue Line flag, which represents support for police officers killed in the line of duty, was a racist image and inappropriate, the Daily Herald reported.
"They have understood that to be a white nationalist flag," Joseph Plata, a former participant in Mount Prospect's Citizens Police Academy, told the Daily Herald.
"You are doing a disservice to Mount Prospect residents and yourselves," Plata said.
In the face of criticism, the village leadership quickly announced the sticker would be redesigned.
“The original vehicle sticker was designed to commemorate and honor the police department and their community outreach initiative through a permanent patrol beat structure. Part of the design included an image of a thin blue lined flag, which was intended to honor the law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their communities,” the Village of Mount Prospect posted on their website.
“Some in the community have found the thin blue lined flag to be racially divisive,” the announcement continued. “The decision to produce a newly designed vehicle sticker addresses those concerns and acknowledges the fact that some residents stated they would feel uncomfortable placing the sticker on their vehicle.”
In response to the news of people making false claims about the thin blue line flag, patriotic apparel company Warrior 12 said that they will be giving out a free Thin Blue Line Flag decal to anybody who wants one while supplies last, you just pay shipping. Use coupon code FREETHINBLUELINE at checkout HERE. The coupon works even if you're purchasing other items with the decal.
DISCLOSURE: Warrior 12 sells all official Blue Lives Matter gear and provides proceeds to Blue Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter is not being compensated in connection with the free sticker giveaway.
"We're drawing a line against cowards who cater to these cop-haters," Warrior 12 President Joe Murphy said.
This is not the first time the Thin Blue Line flag has been misunderstood and removed after complaints that it is a racist symbol, but members of law enforcement have staunchly disagreed with that assessment.
But many, including in the media, still have gotten their facts wrong.
The Daily Herald, for example, reported that the Thin Blue Line flag, frequently referred to as the Blue Lives Matter flag, was created as a visible response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The “Thin Blue Line” flag was created long before Black Lives Matter ever existed.
In fact, the term “thin blue line” has been popular with law enforcement officers since the 1950s.
"Anti-police activists routinely make false claims about pro-police symbols to dissuade people from openly showing support for police,” said Christopher Berg, Editor-in-Chief of Blue Lives Matter. "It's cowardly to cater to these baseless claims."
The village announced on Wednesday evening that a new sticker was in the works that would represent the “Police Department’s community outreach and inclusion efforts.”
The mayor said the new sticker will also honor the police department.
"It was the police department's turn," Juracek said. "Nobody is objecting to honoring the police department. It is just the image that was chosen."
Before the decision was made to redesign the sticker, the mayor was vocal about her concerns over ceding control to “those who misappropriate and distort legitimate symbols," the Daily Herald reported.
"It has obviously taken on a much deeper meaning," she said. "But the more we lend legitimacy to that meaning, I think it lends undeserved credibility to the efforts of those who have taken it to themselves for their own message."
Initially, the village leadership determined that citizens who bought the first sticker could return it and a new one will be mailed to their home.
But they also said that residents had the option to display either sticker on their vehicle, and both would be considered valid.
Later, in the face of considerable backlash from the pro-police community, the mayor said they had revisited the decision over the weekend.
Juracek said there had been considerable discussion over whether changing the sticker was ceding the Thin Blue Line flag to white nationalists, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The compromise was to sell both stickers at the village hall, and let residents decide which one they wanted to put on their vehicles, the mayor said.