Jan. 6 proves Thin Blue Line flags aren't about supporting cops — and mean something far more sinister: reporter
Capitol rioters (Photo by Saul Loeb for AFP)

On Friday, writing for Mother Jones, reporter Tim Murphy outlined how the presence of "Thin Blue Line" flags at the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol prove the real, and darker, meaning of a symbol that ostensibly is just about showing support for police officers.

"The Thin Blue Line is the unofficial (and sometimes official) emblem of American police departments," noted Murphy. "It’s a metaphor for the antagonistic way in which many cops view their jobs — as the 'thin blue line' between civilization and chaos. And it’s been widely adopted by opponents of the Black Lives Matter movement and by the American right, in general."

But it has a different meaning to many who fly it — as made clear by its presence at a riot where Capitol Police were assaulted and bludgeoned trying to keep insurrectionists out of the chamber where U.S. lawmakers were counting electoral votes.

"We see it in the opening scene of the January 6 video, waving behind a woman who tells a cameraman, 'I’m not allowed to say what’s going to happen today, because everyone’s just going to have to watch for themselves,'" wrote Murphy. "It is a striking, though not surprising, flag to see in the context of an insurrection in which Trump supporters attacked the cops who tried to stand between them and Congress. One of the two in-person witnesses at Thursday’s hearing, Capitol police officer Caroline Edwards, described the scene that day as 'carnage,' and said she was 'slipping in people’s blood.'"

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"But in another sense, the mob understood the flag’s meaning perfectly well. The symbol has never been about the idea of respecting laws in the abstract ... The right-wing political apparatus considers police officers both allies and mascots for its project. During the campaign, Trump even rallied with members of the NYPD’s Police Benevolent Association at his golf course. But ultimately, actual laws and actual order were completely non-essential to his own idea of 'law and order'; the flag’s promise of power and force mattered more than the police officers themselves. And on January 6, the thin blue line was just in the way."

The attack has made it clear to many people close to the police where Trump's allies truly stand — as the brothers of deceased Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick have called for Trump to be held criminally accountable.

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