The edict came down last Friday from SFPD Chief Bill Scott after officers generated controversy when they were seen wearing the masks at a May Day protest by homeless activists at an abandoned property.
“The San Francisco Police Department stands for safety with respect for all, and in consideration of concerns some community members have expressed that ‘thin blue line’ symbolism on some of our officers’ face masks may be perceived as divisive or disrespectful, we are taking steps with our officers and the Police Officers Association to provide alternative, neutral personal protective equipment,” Scott said in a statement. “In the midst of a global pandemic that has seen far too many first responders lose their lives, across the nation and around the world, it’s important to remember that the masks our officers wear were meant to honor all who make the ultimate sacrifice for the people we serve.”
“Thin Blue Line masks shall not be worn by our on-duty members,” he wrote in an email to members of the department, Fox 2 San Francisco reported. The department did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
The flag has become identified with the pro-police “Blue Lives Matter” movement, which in turn has been seen as a response to the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
The chief also acknowledged the symbol dated back three decades and was adopted by the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial, calling it a “meaningful expression to honor fallen officers.”
The San Francisco Examiner reported that after viewing video of a line of officers wearing the masks at the protest, Shamann Walton, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, said, “that looks more like something you see below the Mason Dixon Line.”
The organizers of the protest in the city’s Castro neighborhood were from a homeless advocacy group, Reclaim SF.
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