Thin Blue Line Flag Raised at Brooklyn Center Police Station Sparks Outrage

A video showing a Thin Blue Line flag raised outside the Brooklyn Center police station in Minnesota, where a Black man died Sunday after he was shot by a Brooklyn Center police officer during a traffic stop, has sparked outrage on Twitter. Users condemned the flag's presence as "inappropriate" and "disgusting."

The controversial flag has come to represent police solidarity for some. But it has also been "criticized as a symbol of white supremacy," explains The Marshall Project, a non-profit organization reporting on criminal justice issues in the U.S.

"Those who fly the flag have said it stands for solidarity and professional pride within a dangerous, difficult profession and a solemn tribute to fallen police officers. But it has also been flown by white supremacists, appearing next to Confederate flags at the 2017 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville, Virginia," according to The Marshall Project.

The video of the flag, which has had at least 1.6 million views since it was posted Tuesday, was shared by a reporter for Minnesota's Star Tribune, Andy Mannix. "Brooklyn center police are flying a blue line flag outside the station right now," he wrote alongside the post.

The flag was removed "at some point this afternoon," Mannix said in a subsequent tweet.

Several Twitter users condemned the raising of the flag, describing it as "inappropriate, provocative and incendiary" and "absolutely disgusting."

User @mollysmcdonough tweeted: "Mayor Mike Elliott, @mayor_elliott This Blue Line police flag is inappropriate, provocative and incendiary. Police Chief Tim Gannon needs to take down this flag." The post has received at least 2,000 likes since it was first shared.

User @stampwithjenny agreed, tweeting: "At this point, flying this flag is an absolutely disgusting message to the community that the police department has no remorse or intention of changing," in a post that received nearly 200 likes since it was first shared.

User @ShariSaysStuff also pleaded with Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott, tweeting: "@mayor_elliott call the city manager, and get this flag taken down. Yes, the investigation is ongoing BUT this is purposefully inflaming the situation & it's unnecessary, hurtful, & insensitive...this is horrible." The post has received over 100 likes since was shared.

User @will_thad tweeted: "They murder a Black man, claim it was an 'accidental discharge,' and then fly a blue line flag. Dismantle and replace the system!" The tweet received over 1,600 likes since it was posted.

User @clairetiffin wrote: "This is in incredibly poor taste to say the very least. I'm trying to choose my words carefully. I'm appalled and angry. It feels like a taunt to the community," in a post that received nearly 400 likes so far.

User @CheyCab noted: "This speaks volumes unfortunately. Them(police) against the community. And in a community all their own, vs a PART of THE community. That's what that flag represents to me," in a post that received over 100 likes so far.

Asked about why the flag was raised and later removed, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) told Newsweek: "You would need to reach out to the Brooklyn Center Police Department."

Newsweek has contacted the Brooklyn Center Police Department and the Brooklyn Center city government for comment.

Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old Black man who died Sunday, was stopped by police for a traffic violation at the time of the incident. The officers found out he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. He reportedly tried to get back into his car and was shot by the officer.

Police officials said the officer involved, Kim Potter, who had been with the department for 26 years, had mistaken her gun for a Taser.

Potter was placed on administrative leave from the department. The investigation of the latest incident is ongoing, BCA said Monday.

Protesters Brooklyn Center Police Station April 2021
Protesters raise their fists in front of Minnesota State Troopers standing guard outside the Brooklyn Center police station. Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images