Solon raises original ‘Thin Blue Line’ flag after removal of American flag version riles community
SOLON, Ohio (WOIO) - A Thin Blue Line flag is once again waving in the wind at the Solon Police Department after the removal of a different version outraged the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio and members of the community.
The original Thin Blue Line flag now flies in place of the altered American Flag Thin Blue Line flag that was taken down on Tuesday.
Mayor Edward Kraus released a statement on Friday on the decision.
He recognized the altered American flag with the Thin Blue Line on it was raised in front of the police department to honor the fallen men and women of law enforcement, and he supports the message behind the action.
“Unfortunately, this particularly-designed flag has been commandeered by political groups who do not share the best interests of the law enforcement personnel who risk their lives on a daily basis for the betterment of their respective communities,” Kraus said.
“I, as Mayor, asked that the flag be removed as a way of mitigating the unfortunate negative connotation that has been ascribed to that specific design,” Kraus continued.
Later in the statement, Kraus explained that he believes “that the intent and message are better conveyed by the original Thin Blue Line flag, a solid black background with the thin blue line adorned across it. This design has a decades-long tradition of representing the men and women in blue who stand between law and chaos and who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
Read the full statement shared by the mayor on Friday below:
This could be seen as a compromise between Kraus, Police Chief Richard Tonelli, and FOP of Ohio President Gary Wolske.
Kraus ordered the removal of the American Flag variation of the Thin Blue Line flag on July 13 after “it caused a divisive and unhealthy reaction in our community” because it is seen by some as “a symbol of opposition to the racial justice movement.”
In Tuesday’s statement from Chief Tonelli, he said the flag was displayed briefly.
The statement explained that for members of the Solon Police Department the flag represents support for law enforcement and those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
The statement also detailed how it was never the department’s intention to heighten tensions within the community and create conflict and they are sensitive to the fact that it alienates them from those they are committed to serve and protect.
FOP of Ohio President Gary Wolske fired back at the mayor by calling his decision “extremely disappointing” as he “gave a victory to those raging a war on police.”
The National Law Enforcement Memorial flag will instead be displayed on police grounds and is meant to memorialize those who lost their lives and to speak for the support of the police department.
On Wednesday, FOP Ohio sent a letter to both Mayor Kraus and Solon Police Chief Richard Tonelli, supporting the “Thin Blue Line” flag and requesting it be flown again at the police department.
Read FOP Ohio’s full statement below.
Eric Downing agrees. He was organizing a rally in support of displaying the flag.
“The flag is a unifying symbol for them. Their job is hard,” Downing told 19 News.
The rally was set to be held at 1 p.m. Saturday outside Solon City Hall.
Downing also organized a rally last fall in Chardon after a similar controversy.
“You can’t let a few people dictate what you’re going to do when the majority of us don’t want this,” Downing said.
It is unknown if the rally will still go on after Friday’s flag-raising.
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