Walking the Thin Blue Line

Huskies take notice of Thin Blue Line flag in Officer Corbin’s office.

Isabella McDavid, Writer

With the induction of the Peace Flag into The Morgan School, there have been conflicting opinions about hanging the flag in the upper hub. The flag is used for The Rainbow Peace Flag Project, or better known as “The Peace Flag Movement” with its goal to contest violence and create a unified front despite race, sexuality, spirituality, age, culture, and ability.  Its origins lay in Italy, where it was first flown in a peace rally in 1961. The flag was colored like the rainbow and had the lettering of “Pace”(or peace in Italian) printed in the middle. Since then the flag has been adopted by many organizations in the hope of creating a sense of peace in the world.  In 2019, the flag was redesigned to include four skin tone stripes representing the rainbow of humanity, to change the letters from white to black in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and to put all the colors side by side as a symbolic move away from hierarchy and toward equality. The Corgan family donated the flag to the school.  The Social Justice club decided where to hang the flag and created a poster explaining the intent behind The Rainbow Peace Flag Project in order to promote equality within the school and build a more inclusive environment for not just Morgan but Clinton as a whole.

However, the peace flag is not the only flag that has been stirring up controversy among Morgan students.

A rainbow peace flag that has 4 skin tones on the left side with bold black text in the middle
Art by: Virginia Fitzgerald

Past the front office and nestled in officer Corbin’s office, is an American flag with a singular blue strand in the middle. Properly known as one of the seven first responders’ flags, or more accurately The Thin Blue Line Flag. The flag was created to honor police who have served as well as those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.  When students log into Raptor in the morning, students see the flag in his office. Some students expressed concern about the flag hanging near the entrance to the school. 

Man walking underneith a thin blue line flag and an american flag
Photography: Tony Webster


The “elephant” in the room has to be addressed first to talk about the general issue at hand.  

The “Black Lives Matter” movement came to fruition in July 2013 after the acquittal of an officer, George Zimmerman, who had been responsible for the death of Black teen Trayvon Martin 17 months earlier in February 2012. The hashtag associated with the movement helped spread the cause and brought glaring issues regarding police brutality to the forefront. The movement still holds on strong with the most recent peak of protests happening during June 2020 after George Floyd died when Minneapolis Police Office Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck. 

The “Blue Lives Matter” movement was created in December 2014, after the homicides of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn, New York. The movement was made as a counter to the Black Lives Matter movement. This left a sour taste in people’s mouths, as the movement’s parody of the Black Lives Matter movement made it seem as though it was only established as a way to mock the cause. Not only that, but its presence in rallies and protests, especially violent ones, shed a negative light on any cause it wished to pursue.  

The Thin Blue Line flag was flown during these protests, associating it with the movement and the violence that occurred. Though its use in these protests has been denounced by its creator Andrew Jacobs, it is still prevalent in rallies, ultimately creating the cycle of association. However, despite its association, the Thin Blue Line flag is still used as a way to spread positivity in support of first responders while acknowledging mental health challenges that people on the front lines face.

A white college student named Andrew Jacob witnessed the protests of police killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice.  Now, Jacob is the president of Thin Blue Line USA, one of the largest online retailers devoted exclusively to sales of pro-police accessories and clothing. The mission statement of the company is “Thin Blue Line USA was founded to support our brothers and sisters in blue. Our core mission is to provide quality products while making a difference in the law enforcement community.” Even with its devotion to pro-police content, the company denounces its products being used in violent protests as a way to propagate racism and bigotry.  As quoted from the about us section of the Thin Blue Line Flag’s website: 

We reject in the strongest possible terms any association of the flag with racism, hatred, bigotry, and violence. To use it in such a way tarnishes everything it and our nation stands for. “

A black lives matter protest
Photography by: Frankie Fouganthin

Students perspectives

The flag that is currently hanging in The Morgan School is supposed to embody positive messages about the police. However, some students are still questioning whether that version of the flag should be hung in the school.

Senior Emma Lindsay understands the intention of the flag. She said, “when I spoke to officer Corbin about it, he told me that it is to commemorate fallen officers who died in service, or who died by suicide due to their service. So I recognize the point of it, but, with mainstream media, it’s been- taken in and skewed in  a very negative manner, and because of that portrayal- and violence it brings towards other people, I don’t agree with the message of the flag at all.”

Emma proposed an alternative to the Blue Lives Matter flag. She said,  “I spoke to Logan Cummings and asked if he could work on an art piece.”  She would like to see original artwork “that could honor those fallen officers.” She believes this would honor the police “while removing the negative message behind it.”

Some students such as Sophomore Muntara Singh do not believe it is necessary to remove or replace the flag.  Muntara said, “I know that it has been given a different meaning as some people have responded to the Black Lives Matter movement with this flag as a symbol of Blue Lives Matter. However, I understand that it was originally meant to honor law enforcement and those who may have lost their lives on the job. I understand that this is a sensitive topic for many, but I have recently spoken with Officers Corbin and Mangs regarding their opinions on the flag and their reasoning behind putting it up. They don’t hang it as a symbol of the Blue Lives Matter movement, rather as a way to honor law enforcement who have lost their lives. For this reason, and having done my own research about the flag, I do not mind it being hung up.” Muntara believes that Officer Corbin and Detective Mangs can help students understand the intended meaning of the flag. 

A black and white american flag with a blue line in the middle; titles the thin blue line flag
Photo from Hajee Via Flickr

A talk with Officer Corbin

Officer Corbin has been working on the force for over 7 years and has been the SRO at Morgan since the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. He consistently demonstrates his dedication to keeping the school safe. He took over for Detective Spencer Mangs who was the person who hung the Blue Lives Flag in the SRO office.

Officer Corbin quickly responded to a request for an interview.  In the email, the flag was identified as the “Blue Lives Matter” flag.  Officer Corbin was quick to correct the name as The Thin Blue Line Flag, attempting to sever the connection to the movement as well as any negative connotations.

Officer Corbin explained the purpose of the flag. He said, “What it memorializes is fallen officers, right. And since record-keeping began we’ve lost nearly 25,000 men and women who have served in law enforcement, either by on-duty deaths or on-duty or off-duty suicide.”

Officer Corbin stressed that the flag is meant to spread awareness regarding the physical and mental struggles that police officers face both on and off duty.  1 in 5 officers being at risk of developing PTSD while serving.

Officer Corbin believes it is important that the Blue Lives Matter flag hangs in his office.  He acknowledged that the Social Justice club proposed replacing the flag with something that still represented its original meaning but used a different symbol.  He said, “The only issue with that is when you take something down, it just means that it never should have been up in the first place.”

Office Corbin and Detective Mangs met with the  Social Justice Club at Morgan to explain both the history of the flag and the intention behind hanging it. While anyone can simply buy the flag and twist its meaning, the flag’s creators simply wanted to honor the police. Officer Corbin’s door is always open if students wish to discuss this issue with him further. Officer Corbin said, ” I love visitors. I love it when people want to engage in law enforcement and what we do. I understand that a lot of people’s views on law enforcement are solely based on what they see from the news.”  Officer Corbin said that much of the important work police officers do is not newsworthy.  Therefore, the focus is on negative news stories. He said it “breaks my heart” because the flag’s purpose is to “memorialize fallen officers.”  He invites students to talk to him about the flag and its purpose.

What are our Huskies’ opinions on the matter?  This situation is more complicated than many originally thought. We would like our community’s thoughts on this matter.

Truck driving across a beach with an american flag and a thin blue line flag on the back of it
Photography: Tony Webster