Chardon Board of Education bans “political” Thin Blue Line flag despite “special bond” with law enforcement
By Ramon Tomey // Sep 05, 2020

A school superintendent in Chardon, Ohio has banned the use of the thin blue line flag after he claimed that its display in a school setting elicited controversy. The ban comes after a Chardon High School football player carried one during an Aug. 28 game in support of his coach, who is also a police officer.


As reported by News 5, Chardon Local Schools Superintendent Michael Hanlon Jr. said in a statement that the school district’s policy prohibited engagement in political activity and the thin blue line flag will not be part of any pregame activities at Chardon athletic events moving forward. While Hanlon acknowledged that the flag-carrying gesture was “a show of support” for the said coach and other first responders in the community, he also mentioned it “could be interpreted as a racially-motivated” action.

Another statement released by the Chardon Board of Education affirmed its support of the superintendent’s decision to ban the flag. The statement, signed by board President Madelon Horvath, mentioned that the flag was displayed during a school-sanctioned event and any activity can be seen as political was not allowed as per the board’s policy.

The thin blue line flag symbolizes support and solidarity with law enforcement officers – but some claim that the flag is a symbol of white supremacy in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests.

Aside from being a symbol of support and solidarity, the flag also represents the school’s special bond with law enforcement officers after the Feb. 2012 shooting that happened in the school—which Hanlon likewise mentioned in his statement. An armed T.J. Lane entered the school’s cafeteria and fired at students, killing three and wounding three more. Police were among the first to rush to the school, eventually arresting Lane. The shooter is now facing three life terms; he escaped prison in 2014 but was quickly taken back into police custody.

Hanlon nevertheless concluded his statement by saying that the district, alongside the athletic director, is working on a plan to review any pre-game displays for any connections to particular political views or any form of discrimination.

The flag itself wasn’t political, but the banning of it was

A number of people disagreed with Hanlon’s banning of the thin blue line flag, including a survivor of the 2012 school shooting.

Nate Mueller, a Chardon High School alumnus, doesn’t agree with the view that showing support for first responders automatically equated to racism. He also aired his sentiments against the school superintendent, saying that he was “infuriated” at how the 2012 shooting was brought up just to get out of a political tight spot. Mueller, who was only 16 at that time, was shot in the ear by Lane during his rampage but survived.

Chardon resident Bill Manning told Fox 8 that he disagreed with the flag ban, adding that he "wholeheartedly" agreed with the actions of the players and supported the police "100 percent".

Other residents in Geauga County, where Chardon is located, also expressed their disagreement with Hanlon's flag ban. Kyle Boone said that if the thin blue line flag was banned for being "political", other political flags such as the Black Lives Matter flag or the Pride rainbow flag should be banned likewise. Geauga County Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri minced no words in calling for Hanlon’s resignation. In a letter to the superintendent, Spidalieri accused Hanlon of lacking “compassion, understanding and leadership quality” his position required.

Chardon Police Department Chief William Scott Niehus posted on Facebook that his officers appreciated the show of support from the students. He also acknowledged that the thin blue line can represent the best and worst of the force depending on how a person sees it. The police chief concluded the statement by reiterating the department’s duty to equally serve all persons in need, to respond when called upon and to perform its mission as guided by its core values and "the principles of service, justice and fundamental fairness."

The ban on the thin blue line flag is just one case among many explicit displays of support for law enforcement being actively suppressed or censored. In July, Facebook removed an event page for the largest “Back the Blue” rally in Long Island, New York to support police officers – yet turned a blind eye towards violent antifa activity on the platform. Meanwhile, law enforcement departments struggle with reduced budgets and lack of support from city officials who cave in to the demands of Black Lives Matter protesters.

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