The Los Angeles Police Department banned the Thin Blue Line flag from public areas within police departments this week over a complaint the flag represented "violent, extremist views."
LAPD Chief Michel Moore defended the controversial move to Fox News Digital, saying, "Yesterday we received a community complaint of the presence of a Blue Line Flag" with "the view that it symbolized support for violent extremist views, such as those represented by the Proud Boys and others."
"I directed to have the item taken down from the public lobby. The U.S. flag should be proudly displayed in our lobbies whenever possible. Memorials for our fallen are also authorized in all public spaces," he said.
Moore explained that a flag displayed in one station's lobby spurred a complaint and he added, "It’s unfortunate that extremist groups have hijacked the use of the ‘Thin Blue Line flag’ to symbolize their undemocratic, racist, and bigoted views."
The LAPD chief ordered all flags with the symbol to be removed from public areas. Moore said officers still can display the flag "their workspace, locker door, or personal vehicle."
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While Moore said he viewed the flag as symbolizing "the honor, valor, dedication, and sacrifice of law enforcement to protect our communities," he said others had undermined the flag with their "racist, bigoted and oppressive values."
Moore said station lobbies should be places where citizens feel welcome and safe and "free of political ideology."
However, a union representing police officers in the county fired back at the news, calling it "political pandering."
"It is difficult to express the level of utter disgust and disappointment with Chief Moore’s politically pandering directive to remove Thin Blue Line flags and memorials for fallen officers from all public areas within our police stations. This direction came as a result of complaints from anti-police, criminal apologists, and activists who hold too much sway over our city leaders and, unfortunately, our Chief," the Board of directors for the Los Angeles Police Protective League wrote in a statement.
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The union said they "vehemently" opposed "this disrespectful and defeatist kowtowing by our department leadership to groups that praise the killing of police officers and outright call for violence against those of us in uniform. We have directly expressed our outrage to the Chief."
The group which says it represents more than 9,900 members of the LAPD, disagreed with the chief's sentiment that the flag was divisive. They argued the flag was actually a "symbol of unity."
"Let’s all remember what the Thin Blue Line flag is and what it represents: ‘The Thin Blue Line flag features a black and white image of the American flag with the horizontal stripe beneath the field of white stars on the black background. The stars represent the citizenry who stand for justice and order. The darkness represents chaos and anarchy, and to many, a memorial to the law enforcement officers who have perished in the line of duty,'" the statement said.
Across the country in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, a similar step was taken by the Springfield township board, who voted 5-2 to ban the Thin Blue Line from police uniforms this week.
The black and white flag with a Thin Blue Line is seen on the Police Benevolent Association logo. The decision to ban the symbol came after nearly two years of controversy and debate over the issue.
The board said the issue arose in the Spring of 2021 when a flag with the pro-police symbol upset some residents.
Commissioner Eddie Graham argued the flag was comparable to the Confederate flag for African Americans.
"When you wave this flag, it is just like for African Americans the waving of a Confederate flag," he said.
Ultimately the board members voted to ban the symbol, arguing it was divisive.
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However, some members of the community blasted the news.
John English said that when his family put up a blue heart with the Thin Blue Line in their window after an officer was killed, his family was targeted.
"My family is looked upon as white supremacists. And to use that term so loosely in this society is disgusting. It’s vile. These are the vilest people on earth and this is what you’re comparing people to," he told the board, according to a report from the Delaware Valley Journal.
Police officers in the township decried the move, arguing that the board didn't understand what the symbol meant to them. "Unless you’ve stood in the shoes of a police officer, you really don’t know what we do," one officer said.
"Nobody goes to work wanting to kill anybody," he said before describing the chaos of Black Lives Matter protests in the Sumer of 2020 where he said he had "rocks and bottles" thrown at him.
"You are asserting every time you see the Thin Blue Line flag that person is a racist. That doesn’t make it racist," he said, according to the media outlet.
One board member said his vote was "not in any way" meant to disrespect police officers but hoped the ban would "remove the stigma" of those opposed to Black Lives Matter.
The Thin Blue Line USA website says, "The Thin Blue Line flag is flown to show support for our heroes in law enforcement and serves as a consoling reminder they will always be there to protect us. For those who walk it, the Thin Blue Line is a reflection of courage, a pledge of brotherhood and a tribute to those who have fallen in the line of duty."
Fox News Digital reached out to the Springfield Township and the township's Police Benevolent Association for comment. They responded simply, "At this time we have no comment."
Fox News' Louis Casiano contributed to this report.