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Police chief responds to social media reaction over 'thin blue line' patch

Last Updated Mar 24, 2021 at 7:56 am MDT

A Calgary police officer attends an ant-mask rally on Mar. 20, 2021 while displaying the Thin Blue Line patch. The patch has come under fire after many groups linked to racism and hate have adopted the symbol. (CREDIT: @TaylorMadeYYC, Twitter)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The chief of Calgary police has responded to criticism on social media after some officers were seen wearing the thin blue line patch at anti-mask rallies this past weekend.

Chief Mark Neufeld gave his response during a meeting of the Calgary Police Commission Tuesday afternoon.

Neufeld was particularly upset with social media users decrying members of Calgary police wearing the patch while monitoring the rallies and protests in downtown Calgary.

“There’s a lot of people on social media saying ‘if you’re wearing these symbols you should be terminated, you’re a racist, you’re a fascist.’ I don’t believe that, quite frankly, and that’s not how we look at that insignia inside the organization.

The patch has been used for decades to represent solidarity among police officers and to honour those killed in the line of duty.

However, it’s recently been seen among some white nationalist groups who have used it to represent their beliefs.

“At least in the U.S. this particular symbol has been appropriated, at least to some degree, by white nationalist groups and has shown up at various high-profile protests and rallies where there has been racism and intolerance,” said Neufeld.

RCMP are not allowed to wear the symbol and other police forces have followed suit but Neufeld wants to have conversations with the people who find it offensive so they can know what the thin blue line means for Calgary police.

“Can it be rehabilitated? I don’t know the answer to that. That will come in the conversation but at the end of the day we will get to the right answer.”

Neufeld acknowledged the thin blue line imagery has been very present at white nationalist rallies and were seen last year by members of the far-right group the Proud Boys during rallies held in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Earlier this year, the federal government officially declared the Proud Boys and several other groups a terrorist organization.

Neufeld said several Calgary police officers have the thin blue line tattooed on them and wear it proudly. He added in the coming days talks will be had with the anti-racism advisory panel about the impacts these images can have on communities they serve.

He noted the perception of images like this does change over time.

“If it is an offensive symbol to the community, I don’t think that’s what we want at the end of the day.”