Mass. town orders thin blue line flags removed from fire trucks

The town manager ordered the flags removed from all Danvers Fire Department apparatus

By Jennie Oemig
Wicked Local North, Danvers, Mass.

DANVERS, Mass. — Town Manager Steve Bartha has ordered Thin Blue Line flags be removed from all Danvers Fire Department apparatus.

"As local government officials and public servants, our responsibility is to work in support of all residents of and visitors to Danvers regardless of their belief systems or lived experiences," Bartha said in a statement. "When we as public servants, through speech, actions, or the symbols we display, have intentionally or unintentionally undermined the confidence of marginalized members of our community, we are obligated to act."

Photo/Danvers Fire Department via Facebook

Bartha explained that the Thin Blue Line flag means different things to different people, saying it has long been an important symbol of support and solidarity for members of public safety departments and their families.

"Unfortunately, the symbol has also become a form of political speech in today's social landscape that has the power to make marginalized members of our community feel unwelcome and unsafe, so this week I ordered them to be removed from Danvers fire apparatus," he said. "I reached this decision in consultation with the Chair of the Board of Selectmen and after notifying both the Police Chief and Fire Chief."

Acknowledging Danvers as a community that has long supported its police and fire departments, Bartha said the town is fortunate to have some of the best trained and best equipped officers and firefighters in the commonwealth.

"I understand that this decision may not be universally supported, and that some may view the decision as lack of support for our public safety departments," he said. "That could not be further from the truth. To the contrary, it is a decision intended to reaffirm our support and commitment to every single member of our community."

Next: Mass. firefighters comply with chiefs' order to remove blue line flags after debate

©2020 Wicked Local North, Danvers, Mass.

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