The mayor of a New Jersey city ordered his police officers to remove their thin blue line masks prior to a 9/11 tribute ceremony last week.
What are the details?
Fair Lawn PBA Local 67 said on its Facebook page that Mayor Kurt Peluso “ordered” Police Chief Glen Cauwels to tell participating officers to remove the masks since they are “political.”
“The Thin Blue Line is a tribute to all fallen police officers including those lost on 9-11,” the post added. “To interpret it otherwise would be hollow hearted. This is where we stand.”
Image source: Facebook/Fair Lawn PBA Local 67 screenshot
What did the mayor have to say?
Peluso told WKXW-FM that an Aug. 3 rally that “went in the wrong direction” prompted his decision about the masks.
More from the station:
According to NorthJersey.com coverage of the Aug. 3 event, Bergen County’s rapid deployment team was called in by police when a planned vigil at the Borough Hall devolved into a shouting match between Black Lives Matters protesters and supporters of law enforcement.
“There were a lot of hate groups here with their flags and banners, which really didn’t replicate what our community is,” Peluso told the station. “There’s some issues some of the residents had with the Blue Lives Matter flag. Our chief, borough attorney, and assistant borough manager at the time had a conversation and decided it was best not to wear them and go in different direction.”
The mayor added to WKXW that he viewed the 9/11 ceremony as a chance for everyone to “rally around the American flag and come together as a community. I mentioned to the chief I’d prefer if they didn’t wear those masks [at the ceremony] so we could stand together as a community.”
Peluso added to the station that “what’s really touching for me about 9/11 is the American flag. It’s something we all really appreciate during that time.”
What did police union heads have to say?
Patrick Colligan, president of the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, told WKXW he disagrees with the mayor’s call.
“The thin blue line is now apparently divisive because a group said it was, and a white supremacy group flew it at a rally some time ago,” Colligan told the station in a text. “It is nothing more than a source of pride within our profession. Mayor Peluso should have done some basic research before he jumped on the misinformation bandwagon. We lost 37 members of the Port Authority police on 9/11.”
Stephen Cannici, president of Fair Lawn’s PBA Local 67, told WKXW that he’s “sure” that officers who had to remove their thin blue line masks “were not happy about it, but they did comply with the order of the police chief.”
Cannici also told the station the mayor’s decision was “disrespectful.”
“We are united behind one flag. The thin blue line flag represents the law enforcement officers who have given their lives protecting the citizens of the country,” Cannici added to WKXW. “For me it’s just a respectful thing of showing honor to people who would give up their lives.”
The mayor added to the station that he has friends who are NYPD officers and that at the 9/11 Ground Zero ceremony, members of the force did not wear thin blue line masks.
“We understand there are some political issues at this time, and this is a day for us all to come together,” Peluso noted to WKXW “I think the NYPD really set the tone, and I think everyone should listen to them when it comes to 9/11.”
Thin blue line flags and masks have become a contentious issue of late: