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Tom Earle, the head of the public works department and the street department in Lake Geneva, has unilaterally taken it as his position, supported by the art laden city truck flag portrayals, that the thin blue line laid down the horizontal American flag is something the residents, taxpayers, and even visitors must display before them as a symbol of Lake Geneva pride.  The controversy began a few weeks ago when one of the city’s trucks was seen adorned on its sides with a painted representation of the American flag painted large on both sides of its bed.

The partial flag was painted with a blue line running along its center, replacing one of the white stripes normally observed in the display of our flag.  Here is what Mr. Palmer, president of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association had to say about the ‘blue line flag’ when called:
Regrettably, in the last year, we have seen that symbol hijacked and misappropriated by groups with a disingenuous political agenda that bears no resemblance to the professional calling that the flag is meant to embody, and the violent siege at the U.S. Capitol provided the best evidence of that.”  

Here is, also, Number 4 of section 8 of the U.S. Code, with respect to how to treat the United States flag: “
(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.”

There’s another part of the section that does deal with military and police use of the symbol: “(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

The American flag is the symbol of the United States, it is not the symbol set about to be used to covet or support any part of the nation but to bring together and represent everyone.  The Marines, the Army, the Navy, and other organizations of great tradition and history have their own flags. The City of Lake Geneva should immediately order Tom Earle to either take those flag prevarications off the sides of city trucks or replace them with the true colors and designs of the real flag itself.  If he refuses to do that then there are others waiting to replace him in his position.

At the time that this newspaper goes to print the city administrator, David Nord has refused to take such action.  The other leaders of Lake Geneva have taken similar inaction.  There is little doubt, especially in all of Walworth County, or Lake Geneva itself, that there is great support, honor and even love for the police department personnel who work in the great departments located all around Geneva Lake.  The citizens of Walworth are blessed.  The police departments do not place blue line American flags on their vehicles.  This is a city municipal problem of misplacement of expression.

It was very apparent in video coverage of the January 6th nightmare that took place in Washington D.C. that U.S. flags were being pulled down to be replaced by others such as the blue line flag, don’t tread on me flag, and Trump flags.   They have also been flown and carried at meetings of the Proud Boys and other noted and even self-described organizations supporting White Supremacy such as the Ku Klux Klan.  Whatever anyone in the city or county might feel about the blue line flags (and citizens, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, can fly these flags in their yards on personal flag poles on their private property) they have no place on public property.

The inference is with us today and it should not be ignored.  Lake Geneva does not need ‘in your face’ reminding that the population is almost all Caucasian and that it might not be supportive of all other races, which it is.  This seemingly small set of truck-mounted artful expressions need to be removed, or the man who put them on the trucks needs to be removed until a new director can be hired to exercise better judgment. The Thin Blue Line in all its forms needs to be banned from uniforms, vehicles, and police buildings. Because it is interpreted in different ways makes it a distraction for both police officers and the public. The sight of the Thin Blue Line has been the blunt cause of animosity during some police interactions. Ridding this symbolic “flag” will help to ease the tension between police and the public. Which begs the question, why is the American flag not good enough to display patriotism anywhere in this country?


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