Black and blue Canadian flag on display at Ontario police building causes backlash
A black version of the Canadian flag with a thin blue line running through it has been flying outside the Ontario Provincial Police Association building in Barrie since the end of June, and its presence and assumed political affiliation have resulted in some backlash.
According to a statement written by OPP Association President Rob Jamieson, the flag was put on display on June 29 after the red and white Canadian flag was torn.
Jamieson said the flag is meant to honour fallen officers in Canada and was purposefully put up following the death of RCMP Constable Heidi Stevenson, though many see it as a political statement in opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement.
"The police community display this flag to represent support, solidarity and respect to our fallen heroes," he said.
"The dark colour of the flag is purposely subdued to show respect, and the 'thin blue line' symbolizes the police line between good and evil, for honourably serving and protecting our communities, principles that Heidi Stevenson stood for, and gave her life for."
He also said the sale of this flag has raised $100,000 to date, $20,000 of which was donated to Heidi Stevenson's family while the rest will be donated to girls' sports and other charities.
But the fact that the flag, also known as the Thin Blue Line flag, has been used across the continent by pro-police supporters and those fighting back against the movement to end police brutality and anti-Black racism has angered many Ontarians.
"Stop denying that this flag represents an opposition to the black lives matter movement. This is racist and goes to show how racism is protected and rewarded by the police force at large," wrote one Facebook user in the comments section of the OPP Association statement.
"You choose to honour two fallen cops, yet black indigenous and people of colour are MURDERED by police routinely and there is no action or outrage from police unions," wrote another.
Some residents, on the other hand, say they take no issue with the flag but feel the real Canadian flag should be on display by its side. And according to Jamieson, this is currently in the works.
"The OPPA Board of Directors are in the process of getting more flag poles so that the Canadian flag, Ontario flag, OPPA flag and special occasion flags, such as the Blue On Blue flag, the Pride flag and others to be considered on an individual basis by the Board can be flown when appropriate," he said.
And despite its affiliation with the political movement and the resulting backlash, Jamieson says the blue flag will continue to fly in honour of Constable Allan Young of Abbotsford, B.C., who recently died, as well as all fallen officers.
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