Washington school district defends banning Thin Blue Line flag because of its ties to hate groups

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A Washington state school district is doubling down on forcing a teacher to take down a Thin Blue Line flag from her classroom because the superintendent claims it has become a symbol of hate groups.

The unnamed teacher at Marysville Middle School was ordered to take down the flag honoring her brother, a former police officer with the Marysville Police Department , over claims that it was ‘too political’ and ‘controversial’. 

Her brother Chris Sutherland had hit out at the decision saying it ‘does not make sense at all’, especially as other teachers’ LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter flags were allowed to remain.

Now Dr. Chris Pearson, interim superintendent for the Marysville School District, has defended the district’s decision, claiming the pro-police flag was too ‘political’ and even had ties to hate groups.

A teacher at a Washington middle school was reportedly asked to take down her Thin Blue Line flag that she hung up in her classroom to support her brother

The Thin Blue Line flag was seen being carried carried by rioters during the January 6th attacks on the US Capital (pictured)

The Thin Blue Line flag was seen being carried carried by rioters during the January 6th attacks on the US Capital (pictured)

Yet, Pearson insisted the BLM and LGBTQ flags can stay because they ‘make vulnerable students feel seen’.

In a statement to DailyMail.com, Pearson said: ‘While (the Thin Blue Line flag) might be viewed by some as a tribute to police, this symbol was also used by hate groups in the 2017 far-right rally in Charlottesville, and was also carried by rioters during the January 6th attacks on the US Capital.

‘Therefore, without any educational context or purpose, the display of this symbol in a school classroom cannot be reasonably divorced from the political meanings that have been attached to its varied uses and, as a result, may send a mixed or even disruptive message to staff, students and families.’

But the district said these same rules don’t apply to other flags that could be interpreted as political that remain on display, such as the Black Lives Matter flag or the Pride flag.  

Pearson said that he believed the flags were symbols of ‘equity and inclusion’ and so were ‘appropriate for campus display.’ 

‘For many of our most vulnerable students who might participate in one of these clubs, these symbols may also help them to feel both heard and seen by their school community,’ Pearson said.  

Marysville Police Department declined to comment on the flag controversy but ‘thank(ed) the community for their support’.

The issue first came to light after the teacher’s cop brother Sutherland complained about the decision to The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. 

‘They told her that it’s controversial to have that flag up,’ he said. ‘That it makes kids and staff feel unsafe, which to me, that does not make sense at all.’ 

In a letter, Marysville School District officials asked the teacher to take down the Thin Blue Line flag by the morning of September 8 or face 'further disciplinary action'

In a letter, Marysville School District officials asked the teacher to take down the Thin Blue Line flag by the morning of September 8 or face ‘further disciplinary action’

District officials did not seem to have an issue with the Pride flag she hung up in her classroom in support of her sister, though

District officials did not seem to have an issue with the Pride flag she hung up in her classroom in support of her sister, though

The teacher’s brother said his sister previously had a run in with an assistant principal over a Thin Blue Line sticker on her laptop. 

In a HR document about the incident, which conservative radio host Jason Rantz, of KTTH, obtained, the assistant principal said there were ‘concerns about how students, families and community members might interpret what the image is intending to communicate, and that this interpretation may cause a disruption to the learning environment.’

The objections were soon dropped, though, and the teacher later posted the flag in her classroom.

But soon, Rantz reports, a second assistant principal ordered the flag to be taken down, an an HR representative for the Marysville School District said in a Letter of Clarification to the teacher that the district was ‘highly concerned about the impact of this political symbol on students, staff and families of Marysville Middle School.’

It said the assistant principal ‘had heard concerns from other staff members about how this political symbol might negatively impact the overall work environment,’ but does not indicate what those concerns were. 

She tried to fight back, he said, telling them ‘she was leaving it up because of what it meant to her.’ 

District officials then told her to ‘refrain from using the ‘Thin Blue Line Flag’ symbol’ in the school by the morning of September 8, or she could face ‘further disciplinary action.’  

Eventually, Rantz reports, the teacher decided to remove the Thin Blue Line flag, but wrote in a message to the school’s Human Resources department that the ordeal ‘has been the most traumatic and hostile’ situation she has experienced at the school.

The teacher works at Marysville Middle School, seen here

The teacher works at Marysville Middle School, seen here

She wrote: ‘I was proud to come back as a Marysville alumni and begin teaching here in 2014. I remain hopeful for the remainder of the school year.’

The teacher further explained that the decision to pull the flag came from ‘an agenda rather than really wanting to gain any understanding of me, who I am, or my story.’

She added that the incident ‘left a lasting impression,’ but she forgives the school district for the sleight. 

‘It really hurts,’ Sutherland told DailyMail.com. ‘I know it hurts her too and many more to make her take down the flag that represents us in law enforcement in a school district where we had one of the worst school shootings a couple years ago.

‘I was on campus at Marysville-Pilchuck High School that day, and gave my heart and soul in an effort to make things normal,’ he noted. ‘I worked so close with the school district and community that it now feels like a slap in the face to me and my brothers and sisters in law enforcement who support us.

‘Plus the district does not wait any time at all to call us when they need us,’ Sutherland added. ‘If the flag and sight of police officers is that bad and scary, then why do they still call?’ 

Sutherland noted that his sister will continue to fight to get the flag back up in her classroom without fear of being fired for it.

The incident comes as multiple teachers have removed American flags from their classrooms, according to FOX News, with one in Portland saying they removed it because it ‘stands for violence and menace and intolerance, and I will not fly that in my room.’

Another teacher in California was recently removed from her classroom after a viral video showed her admitting she encouraged students to pledge allegiance to a gay pride flag after she removed the American flag from the classroom because it made her ‘uncomfortable.’

And just last week, Arizona State University students were confronted over a ‘racist’ sticker on a computer reading ‘Police Lives Matter,’ and were reportedly told to leave the area where they were studying. 



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