Family of fallen officer forced to remove Blue Lives Matter flag amid complaints

YORK, Maine – The family of a fallen officer in Maine said they felt forced to remove a Thin Blue Line flag to mark the anniversary of his death after hearing people (falsely) complain that it was racist.

The fallen officer, Trooper Charles Black, was fatally shot during a bank robbery in 1964. His son, also named Charlie Black, decided to erect the Thin Blue Line flag, which is also known as the Blue Lives Matter flag and is meant to honor law enforcement. The son placed the flag on a utility pole near his home, prompting some residents to complain that an offensive symbol was on public property.

The town manager of York, Maine told News Center Maine that a resident visited his office to complain about the flag.

fallen officer

Thin Blue Line Flag (Wikipedia commons)

“A resident came in and said there’s a problem,” Town Manager Steve Burns said, adding that the resident argued, “This is a flag that represents segregation and discrimination.”

Rather than educating the misinformed citizen, he called the family of the fallen officer to forward the concern about the flag. Consequently, the trooper’s widow took the news hard.

“This is just ripping a wound in her heart,” Burn said.” It was pure instant emotion for her and her whole family.”

The son, Charlie Black, decided to take the flag down after his mother requested it, and expressed frustration that the effort to pay tribute to his father had gotten mired in a politically-charged debate.

“This is not a racist white supremacist symbol, and I’m angry it’s portrayed that way,” Charlie Black said.

minor league baseball

(File photo)

The trooper’s widow, former York selectman Mary Black Andrews, told the Bangor Daily News that the last thing she wanted was to stoke divisions.

“God forbid we should offend anyone,” she said to the newspaper. “It bothers me tremendously. It’s the anniversary of his death. He gave his life to protect the public, and I gave my life to this town, and we can’t even celebrate this person. I’m sorry I offended them. It’s coming down and it won’t happen again.”

The flag is meant to honor law enforcement, particularly those lost in the line of duty.

“People who see other messages in the flag have merely bought propaganda and lies concerning law enforcement officers,” said retired police lieutenant and managing editor of Law Officer, Jim McNeff. “This flag represents male and female police officers as well as every ethnic race employed as a cop; and that’s quite a diverse group. So don’t tell me it represents racism. That is a falsehood perpetuated by people who have an axe to grind with cops. Moreover, honoring a fallen officer in this manner is sacred. A person complaining about the practice should be educated not appeased, and the flag ought to remain waving in the wind.”

“Whether it’s the American flag or the Thin Blue Line flag,” McNeff concluded, “losing our respect and national pride in symbols that represent patriotism along with law and order will spell doom for us as a people. I shutter to think what that kind of disrespectful majority would do with our nation.”

York Police Chief Charles Szeniawski said the town does not have a policy about placing flags in places other than private residences.

“There is no policy about flags. Can anyone put anything up there? I don’t know. Maybe it’s something we should look at.”

He acknowledged that various groups view the Thin Blue Line flag differently.

“It’s how people interpret it,” he said. “For most officers that’s the Thin Blue Line flag. Just because you’re an officer doesn’t allow you to do anything you want. You can’t cross that line. That’s what it means to most of us.”

(Feature image: U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman Zoe T. Perkins)

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Showing 8 comments
  • Robert Johnson

    All I can say is that apparently the town manager is a coward with no backbone.

  • Steve Evans

    Your town manager when coming up for re appointment needs to go work somewhere as a no backboned yes man. Spineless politician. And yes I am retired LEO as well

  • Catherine Byrne

    I wish all her neighbors would hang The thin blue line flag on their property to show her support.

    • Deborah

      How on God’s earth is a thin blue flag racist? Law enforcement officers serve and protect EVERYONE! The only people I can think of that would think its racist are those that have committed crimes or come from families of criminals. The politicians in this town should be ashamed, and removed from office!

  • Rich

    The only racist in this matter was the person who made the initial complaint.

  • Jerry Casey

    This is the heighth of a lack of respect for Police Officers. I hope the address of these people is acutely posted at the desk of the dispatchers so they can advise the responding officers they are called to a hostile environment. 6

  • Susan

    Education is key. Removing the flag just reinforces lack of respect for officers of the law.
    Other groups have no qualms about flying whatever flag they choose and people are forced to respect it in fear of being labeled racist, bigoted or whatever nasty label someone chooses to carelessly throw around. We have to stay strong and not back down to bullying and misinformation. I sincerely fear the day when young men and women will no longer wish to choose law enforcement as a career.

  • Dennis Rudder

    Maybe he should post the flag in the yard or on his house rather than on a utility pole. Just sayin…

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