Chardon, Ohio – A Chardon High School football player carried a Thin Blue Line flag onto the field during the season opener. The school banned the flag right after, saying that 1) it wasn’t sanctioned by the school, and 2) that it “perceived differently by different people.” But the community held a rally to show their support for the student’s action and to support law enforcement.
Even though the Superintendent said the student didn’t appear to have done it from being “racist,” he caved to the pressure from the left and banned the flag. The Chardon School Board fully backed the Superintendent’s ban.
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“Because it was displayed as part of a pre-game ceremony under the supervision of school staff, it was construed as sanctioned by the school district…Political activity by staff members is not allowable under Board of Education policy. Our support for Dr. Hanlon and the District policy prohibiting political speech by staff members does not diminish the District’s support and appreciation for police and all first responders.”
Not everyone agreed. One Geauga County commissioner, Ralph Spidalieri , wrote a letter calling for Superintendent Hanlon’s immediate resignation.
“Mr. Hanlon, you have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that you do not carry the compassion, understanding, and leadership quality that is required in your position.”
The student who ran onto the field with the Thin Blue Line flag did so to support the team’s coach, who is a law enforcement officer. Adding to the poignancy is that the day before the rally, a Cleveland Detective, James Skernivitz, was murdered as he was working undercover during a drug deal (WKYC). He had just been sworn in to the Federal Task Force known as Operation Legend.
The rally was organized by Eric Downing, who thought he would maybe get around 12 people to participate. He was surprised when over 1,000 showed up to support law enforcement, complete with hundreds of thin blue line flags.
More than a thousand people gathered at Chardon Square to march to the high school to back the football players’ right to carry the flag and show their appreciation for law enforcement.
“To see that the public cares about us, that means a lot to the officers,” Chardon Police Chief Scott Niehus said.
“I think that [officers] think they’re not liked and appreciated, but they are,” event organizer Eric Downing added.
The event was organized on Tuesday afternoon, with Downing thinking he may get a dozen or so people to show up. He never imagined this many members of the community would come out or that the event would take on a little different meaning and tone after a Cleveland Police officer was tragically killed in the line of duty the night before.
The ‘Thin Blue Line’ is a term that has been in use since the 1950s, long before Black Lives Matter came into being. The flags also have been around decades before any BLM was around. Yet Black Lives Matter views the flag as “co-opting” their message…or outright racist in nature. The flags have no direct connection to any police organization and have been used to express support for law enforcement for decades.
“It’s most important that we don’t lose sight that the members of the Chardon Police Department equally serve all persons who require our assistance without regard to race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or gender expression. When called upon we will respond. We will perform our mission as guided by our core values, and the principles of service, justice and fundamental fairness. That’s who we are, and that’s what our community expects of us.” Chardon Police Chief Scott Niehus
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