Vancouver city councillor defends wearing controversial thin blue line police patch
A Vancouver city councilor, who recently retired as a police officer, is defending his choice to wear a thin blue patch. The city’s new mayor, Ken Sim, is also backing Coun. Brian Montague’s controversial use of the logo.
Montague was pictured wearing the patch in a social media post by fellow ABC Vancouver Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung on Saturday while the two were taking a walking tour of the Gastown neighborhood.
The blue slim line symbol consists of a monochrome Canadian flag with a horizontal blue line running across the center. Despite its significance for many officers, several police departments across the country have ordered their members not to wear it on their uniforms, due to its perception in the communities they are assigned to. assigned security duties.
In response to Kirby-Yung’s post, several people mentioned Montague’s thin blue line patch.
“Why is one of the councilors wearing a white supremacist emblem?” asked Twitter user @UrethraFranken
Why is one of the councilors wearing a white supremacist symbol?
“I was at the event and almost chose to stay out of the group picture when I discovered that a sitting ABC councilor was wearing a thin blue patch. Now I really regret it. sorry for not having the guts to do so. It’s gross and ABC should be ashamed of it,” said James Marshall, who uses the Twitter account, @JamesWestEnd.
I was at the event and almost chose to stay out of the group photo, when I discovered that a sitting ABC councilor was wearing a thin blue patch. Now I really regret not having the courage to do so.
It’s gross and ABC should be ashamed of this.
Montague responded to a post about its use, saying “it symbolizes a line of people devoted to protection.”
“It’s a keepsake for the many friends and colleagues I’ve lost. It symbolizes bravery and sacrifice. I have the right to wear it. How dare you or anyone else redefine, usurp or usurp my icon.”
The former spokesman for the Vancouver Police Department, who won election to the council in October, declined a request for an interview from CBC News, saying in an email, “People who don’t like the police have voiced their opinions. of them, but I don’t think I need to say more than I already have – my position is pretty clear.”
Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim’s office also declined an interview request on his behalf and sent a short written statement.
“As a veteran of the Vancouver Police Department, Sheriff Montague wears the patch as a keepsake for the many friends and colleagues he and countless other officers have lost over the years – We support the choice wearing Councilor Montague’s patch,” said Sim.
“We condemn those who attempt to redefine or co-opt the thin blue line symbol for hateful or political purposes.”
The split history of the symbol
According to Martin Andresen, a professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University, the “divisive” blue line symbol has a history of more than a hundred years and is associated with colonial oppression. Andresen said it has become more prominent recently in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 2020.
Floyd’s death has led to global protests tied to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, which highlights the discrimination, inequality and racism that blacks have to go through. .
In response to the BLM movement, some groups adopted slogans such as All Lives Matter — seen by many as a provocative rebuttal to the idea that Black lives mattered — and used icons such as thin blue lines and a version of Marvel’s Punisher skull.
“The police have a long history of brutalizing, incarcerating, killing… people of color,” said Andresen, adding that in Canada, indigenous people often experience this in a unique way. inconsistent.
Police ordered not to wear thin blue line
Despite its importance to police officers – and former officers like Montague – many police departments have ordered their members not to wear the thin blue patch on their uniforms. or decals of the logo on vehicles and equipment.
In March, the Calgary Police Service decided to ban stickers on officers’ uniforms. Following objections from the Calgary Police Service, members were allowed to wear the patch while wearing either casual or official uniform but not their regular service uniform.
of the committee announcement announcing the decision includes historical context explaining why many people find the thin blue line problematic.
“The historical roots of the thin blue line are from colonial ideals that have caused immense suffering to Indigenous peoples of Canada and people of color worldwide,” the committee said.
“Describing the ‘us against them’ front line of control inherent in this thin blue line doesn’t fit the modern understanding that our world is not easily divided into good guys and bad guys. bad,” it wrote.
In 2020, the RCMP directed its members not to wear the emblem. That decision was protested by the National Federation of Policeencouraged its frontline members to wear a bonding patch bisected by a thin blue line.
In Vancouver, the police department has not made a decision on the patch.
“It’s a very sensitive matter,” said Sheriff Const. Adam Palmer during the Vancouver Police Commission meeting in April.
“Officers wearing those patches are not wearing them as any form of white supremacy.”