A local group has responded to a recent controversy regarding a “thin blue line” banner, and a “thin red line” banner, that were removed from the collection of flags recently placed along Liberty Avenue in Vermilion by the organization.
"Thin blue line" is a term or emblem used to assert that police are the line which keeps society from descending into violent chaos. “Thin red line” is a similar term or emblem representing firefighters. Critics argue that "thin blue line" symbolism suggests an "us versus them" mentality, heightening tensions between police and citizens.
“This week the two thin blue line banners were removed from the ranks of the U.S. flags we placed along Liberty Avenue,” stated Kenneth M. Baughman, President of Friends of Harbour Town Inc. “This is upsetting to us, however, out of respect for the jobs and the difficult challenges that are facing both our mayor and our police chief we will honor their wishes and do our part to deescalate recent tensions. Both men are right and honorable men and are worthy of our respect. They serve our city with dignity and grace and for that we respect them.”
According to Baughman, the removal of those banners sends an inaccurate message.
“We respect our police force and our fire department and all who serve to keep our city safe,” said Baughman. “To that end the Friends of Harbour Town, Inc. will display the thin blue line banner and the thin red line banner in front of our property, to show both our respect and gratitude for the sometimes thankless job that these men and women do for our community. Do not assume this display has any other hidden meaning; it does not. Please, do not try to speak ‘for us’ or try to convince us of what we should think. We are well informed responsible adults who are more than capable of thinking for ourselves and forming our own opinions.”
Baughman stated that everyone is welcome to agree or disagree with this decision.
“If you agree, join us, volunteer, and help us to improve our community, or make a donation,” said Baughman. “If you disagree, we would strongly suggest you form your own organization. If you do, we will respect your right to have your own opinions and never criticize or berate you for having them. You should know it takes a great amount of time and effort and a firm reliance on friends within the community to achieve your goals.”
“Now more than ever I am reminded of the words of President John F. Kennedy, who said; ‘For, in the final analysis, our most common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal’,” said Baughman. “I would humbly add that mutual respect matters.”