Nebraska Police Scrap Face Masks After Complaints They Resemble Confederate Flag

Nebraska's Lincoln Police Department told officers on Friday to scrap specific face masks after it received complaints that the coverings resembled Confederate flags.

According to a Facebook post published by the department, pictures began circulating across social media of an officer wearing the aforementioned face mask at a Black Lives Matter protest.

"The officer was wearing the donated mask which can clearly be seen in the second photo. While the mask is not the confederate flag, we have ordered all officers to discard masks with this pattern to avoid any confusion," the department wrote on its Facebook page with a picture of the masks.

One of the photos of an officer with the mask was posted to Twitter by user Black Leaders Movement accompanied by a caption: "During our LGBTQ+ march tonight, we encountered the police. We asked them to not follow our march as they are the reason we are marching. While talking he pulled out this mask, y'all see what we see? And they're there to help us? If you recognize this officer please let us know!!"

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, Lincoln Police officer Luke Bonkiewicz acknowledged that the mask may have looked similar to the Confederate symbol.

"In the particular way the mask was photographed and the light that was involved, we can understand how some people think it might have resembled the Confederate flag. However, that was not the case," Bonkiewicz said.

According to ABC 8 News in Nebraska, Bonkiewicz stated that the coverings were donated to the department by members of the community, along with several other masks with different patterns.

The incident comes during a time of intense controversy over the Confederate flag in the U.S. following the death of George Floyd on May 25. Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd's neck for several minutes -- an incident that sparked nationwide protests calling for an end to police brutality and systematic racism against Black Americans.

During the different protests, Confederate statues, monuments and flags have been vandalized, and some have even been removed. On Tuesday, in Laurel, Mississippi, Mayor Johnny Magee signed an executive order removing all state flags, which feature a Confederate symbol, from city-owned and operated buildings.

Newsweek reached out to the Lincoln Police Department for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Black Lives Matter protest
People protest against the death of George Floyd and others in police custody, as they support the Black Lives Matter movement outside the Hall of Justice in Los Angeles, California on June 24, 2020. MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images/Getty