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MARYSVILLE, WA – A teacher at a middle school in Marysville was ordered to take down a Thin Blue Line flag that was hung up inside of her classroom, with school officials telling her that it was a controversial symbol that made students feel unsafe.

Yet the school still allows for the likes of Black Lives Matter and Pride flags and messages to be displayed from inside of classrooms.

According to a report from Jason Rantz, the flag removal order was handed down by school district officials to a teacher at Marysville Middle School.

The teacher had the Thin Blue Line flag hung inside of her classroom as a means to show support for police officers, yet the school district’s human resources department alleged that the flag is a “political symbol” that could cause a “disruption” in the classroom.

However, a double standard seems to exist – in that Pride and BLM flags can remain being displayed inside of the school.

Chris Sutherland, the brother of the teacher who is also a former police officer with the Marysville Police Department, claims that the existence of this double standard is rooted in anti-police sentiments coming from school staff at the middle school.

It all started with a simple Thin Blue Line sticker that the teacher had placed on her laptop, once again to show support for the profession and her brother. At the time of the sticker being placed on the laptop, an assistant principal at the school objected to the sticker.

A human resources document pertaining to the mere sticker debacle noted that the assistant principle approached the teacher with “concerns about how students, families, and community members might interpret what the image is intending to communicate, and that this interpretation may cause a disruption to the learning environment.”

Despite there being initial objections over the sticker, the school reportedly dropped the issue.

However, when the teacher hung a Thin Blue Line flag inside of the classroom with photos of her brother posted around it – then another assistant principle got involved and ordered the flag to be taken down.

Sutherland told Jason Rantz that this order was delivered with the repeated message of possibly upsetting students:

“They told her that it’s controversial to have that flag up. That it makes kids and staff feel unsafe, which to me, that does not make sense at all.”

The teacher reportedly received a “Letter of Clarification” from a district human resources representative regarding concerns over the display of the flag inside of the classroom.

These concerns outlined in the letter noted “about the impact of this political symbol on students, staff, and families of Marysville Middle School” and how an assistant principal at the school “had heard concerns from other staff members about how this political symbol might negatively impact the overall professional work environment.”

Said letter from the district’s human resources department mandated that the teacher “refrain from using the ‘Thin Blue Line Flag’ symbol” completely – stickers and all. And in the event the teacher decides to go against the grain, it could “result in further disciplinary action.”

This “Letter of Clarification” proclaimed that the district supports police but wouldn’t offer a firm explanation on why the Thin Blue Line flag is somehow being construed as a “political symbol”.

But an all the more confusing aspect regarding this disallowance over the propensity for the Thin Blue Line flag to be considered a “political symbol” and how it could disrupt the learning environment – BLM flags, imagery and the sort is still permitted, Sutherland stated:

“There’s also, she was telling me, BLM stuff hanging on walls, which she was told is OK. Just for whatever reason, just the Thin Blue Line flag cannot be hung up there.”

One would hardly doubt the framing that BLM is a political movement – as it has been the name and rallying cry amid numerous protests (and riots) that aims to redress policies believed to adversely affect black Americans.

And the same could certainly be said about the Pride flag, as it has been often used as a political symbol in an effort to advance civil rights within the LGBT community in the past. In fact, the same teacher told to remove the Thin Blue Line flag has a Pride flag displayed in her own classroom.

While Thin Blue Line flags have certainly cropped up at various demonstrations over the years as well, there has never really been any sort of desired policy prescriptions aligned with the flag and what it represents.

The school district has not come forward to explain why political symbols for BLM or Pride are permissible, but the alleged undefined political connotations of the Thin Blue Line flag result in a barring of the symbol being displayed in all forms.

Sutherland says that he “can hear in her voice how much it actually hurts her being told to” remove the Thin Blue Line flag from her classroom, saying in their conversations about the matter he finds it “frustrating because I know how much she cares and how much this means to her. For her to have to go through that…it’s just not fair.”

Still, Sutherland says that his sister will continue to push the issue in hopes that she’ll be able to eventually redisplay the flag without facing possible termination – but the whole ordeal with the human resources department getting involved has “left a lasting impression.”

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Students caught throwing 9/11 tribute flags, thin blue line flags into trash: ‘These are not appropriate’

(Originally published September 18th, 2021)

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL- According to reports, a controversy is brewing at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, after images shared to social media showcase flags that were placed on campus as a tribute to 9/11 first responders were pulled out and dumped in a trash can. 

Denis Aloma, the school principle, sent a statement to Local 10 News, which said:

“On September 11th, a select group of students and parents installed blue and red striped flags to honor fallen police and firefighters … The presence of the flags was intended for remembrance only, however, some students felt these flags were not appropriate.”

She added:

“An important teaching moment is upon us and the students involved have had the opportunity to express their feelings … In addition, each student has been invited to speak to our school’s diversity inclusion sensitivity committee to provide further understanding.”

Reportedly, the students who trashed the flags interpreted the flags as a statement of support for the “Blue Lives Matter” movement. However, many other students said that trashing the flags was disrespectful of the lives lost on September 11, 2001. Student Joshua Jean said:

“They disrespected the flag.”

Another student, who remained unidentified, said:

“[The person who dumped the flags] believes that the school was racist for doing that kind of thing when in reality it had nothing to do with race, it had to do with 9/11.”

A petition is now reportedly circulating among the St. Thomas Aquinas community calling on the students who threw away the flags to be disciplined. The flyer says, in part:

“When STA students brought the vandalism to administration’s attention, they were accused of ‘being insensitive to the events that have happened over the past year and a half.’ STA staff then proceeded to remove the ‘thin blue line’ flags from campus, spitting on the hard work of students.”

Another student, Thomas Araya, said:

“It’s sad to see that people are throwing it away.”

In a separate incident, a video showcases a student at Washington University picking up U.S. flags commemorating 9/11 on campus and putting them in what appears to be a trash bag. The video went viral on social media. 

According to the student newspaper, the person in the video, since identified as Fadel Alkinali, serves as the chairman of the school’s student senate finance committee.

He allegedly told the paper that he is critiquing the military interventions and Islamophobia that followed the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He said in a statement:

“Any memorial of 9/11 that does not contend with these facts is not only incomplete, but it also amplifies pro-imperialist sentiment and actively disrespects those who have died because of the American invasion.”

The Washington University College Republicans, who placed nearly 3,000 flags at Mudd Field to commemorate the 9/11 attacks want the school to take action over the flag removal.

The school released a statement saying it is disappointed to hear about the 9/11 disruption and condemns Alkilani’s actions, but no disciplinary measures have bene taken.  Ben Wagoner, a student on campus said in a statement:

“There are respectful ways to voice one’s discontent with American foreign policy since then and there are disrespectful ways to do it, and I think removing flags on 9/11 for a memorial intended to honor the victims of 9/11 is definitely a disrespectful way to do it.”

Another student, Grace Halupnick also described Alkilani’s actions as disrespectful, adding:

“I didn’t see it until this morning, but my roommate showed me. I was kind of shocked because I thought the flags were like a nice touch, so I didn’t really know why they did that.”

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