State Government

Police group backs VT ‘thin gray line’

by Guy Page

A large Massachusetts-based police labor organization stands behind the ‘thin gray line’ of the rank-and-file of the Vermont Department of Corrections.

A May 13 letter from the Chelmsford, MA New England Police Benevolent Association praised state corrections workers and Sen. Russ Ingalls (R-Essex/Orleans) for defending the ‘thin gray line’ symbol banned by Dept. of Corrections Commissioner James Baker.

“The NEPBA stands committed to stand and fight alongside you,” the letter from Executive Director Jerry Flynn and Executive Vice-President Sean McArdle said. “While we understand the need to work together with management, we know all too well there will be those managers, both elected or appointed leaders who will use these uncertain times as an opportunity to take advantage of you, rest assured this will not be tolerated by the NEPBA.

“On May 9, 2021, the NEPBA was made aware of the Vermont Department of Corrections ban on the ‘thin gray line’ flag,” the letter continued. “As Executive Director of the NEPBA and on behalf of the NEPBA and nearly 5,000 members we would like to thank Senator Russ Ingalls (R-Essex-Orleans) for his leadership and immediate defense of such an important symbol to so many members of the Vermont Department of Corrections.”

As reported May 10 in Vermont Daily, Baker said in an early May memo to senior DOC leadership: “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).”

Bakers’ memo drew this response from Ingalls: “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.”

Categories: State Government