by Guy Page
A Vermont state senator objects to a recent Vermont Dept. of Corrections ban on the ‘thin gray line’ flag meant to show support for corrections officers. Commissioner James Baker said that the once-acceptable flag “has become a symbol of divisiveness” that has been “hijacked, weaponized and used for a more nefarious purpose as we witnessed on January 6, 2021 at the United States Capitol in Washington, DC.”
“What the Commissioner doesn’t realize or maybe he does, is that any support shown for DOC, Law Enforcement, the Military or Homeland Security is going to be weaponized by the left as something offensive,” Sen. Russ Ingalls (R-Essex-Orleans) told Vermont Daily yesterday.
Ingalls was referring to this following memo from Baker to DOC superintendents and district managers:
“In the Spring of 2020, at the point we realized how damaging and challenging the COVID-19 virus was going to be, there was a grassroots rally of support for Vermont DOC that grew organically. There were parades, food delivered, and the lasting chosen symbol of support was the thin gray line signs offering a symbol of support meant as a way to say: “Thank you. Protect and Serve.”
“At the time, the abstract message conveyed through this symbol was intended as a show of support to those sacrificing and serving in the facilities and the field. Those who understood and appreciated the message were Vermont DOC members, families, and colleagues. In recent months the symbolic message of the thin line flags have been revealed to have a new meaning. In fact, it was hijacked, weaponized, and used for a more nefarious purpose as we witnessed on January 6, 2021 at the United States Capitol in Washington, DC. For many, the thin line has become a symbol of divisiveness. That divisiveness is leading to a divide that is not helpful – in fact in some eyes harmful. The thin line of all colors is being used as a symbol of intimidation, intended to evoke fear in the hearts and minds of people from marginalized communities, especially Black/brown, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). This representation as an intimidation tactic goes against our values as a department and a community whose goal is to serve, protect, and respect all in our custody.
“As in many justice-based organizations, I am directing that the Superintendents and District Managers to remove all thin gray line signs in and around our facilities and offices. In lieu of those signs I am creating a working group to create a permanent symbol of support for the work, values, and individuals of the Vermont DOC. The goal is to create signs and symbols that are inclusive and celebrate the commitment and care Vermont DOC staff put into our work and our communities. Signs will be made by our industrial shop staff to be displayed in and around our work locations.
“I have asked District Manager Joe Sampsell to chair the committee and report back no later than June 1, 2021 with a design and recommendation on how to best message the professionalism and dedication of those who serve in Vermont DOC. Our Equity and Inclusion Consultant Tabitha Moore will assist the committee work.”
“The Commissioner can ask for anything he’d like to replace the proud thin line flag but unless it’s a derivative of the BLM flag, a gay pride flag, or anything that the left supports, then it will be found to be offensive,” Ingalls said. “Stand proud DOC and all that are in uniform that answer the call to keep us safe. I stand with you. You are my heroes. Thank you for your service.”
Categories: State Government