FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thin Blue Line School Suspension Spurs Protest
On last week, a student attending Bradford District High School was suspended for refusing to remove a Thin Blue Line flag, an offensive hate symbol from his vehicle. In response to the school’s actions, a “protest” is being organized in retaliation on November 23.
The plan to demonstrate on school property and throughout town is hazardous for the community and kids and sets a dangerous example of what is acceptable behaviour. A coalition of concerned parents and others has asked the school and municipality to enact protocols that will keep schools and the community safe and reinforce that hate has no place in any public aspect of our society.
The advocacy groups working together to address racism and oppression in our communities include Uplift Black, Parents Against Racism Simcoe County, BWG Diversity Action Group, Rise Up BWG and Local Allies. We made the a series of recommendations to the Bradford Secondary School and Simcoe County District School Board and have reached out to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Bradford, Thomas Carrique–Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, local MPP’s Mulroney, Downey, Dunlop, Khanjin, and the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Sylvia Jones, South Simcoe Police Services Board Chair Chris Gariepy, South Simcoe Police Services Chief of Police Andrew Fletcher asking them to condemn the protest and inviting them to have further discussions about Anti-Racism, Anti-Black Racism and Anti-Oppression training and education in the community, schools and police forces.
We appreciate the desire to show support for the challenging job one chooses to take on when becoming a police officer, and it is widely understood that support for police can be shown by wearing a blue ribbon. The ‘us-vs-them’ stance promoted by the Thin Blue Line and Blue Lives Matter campaigns not only censures the very real and valid concerns and experiences some equity-seeking groups have with police, it undermines the relationship necessary for a good relationship between the police force and the communities they serve.
We invite your media outlet to help educate the public on the difference between the blue ribbon as a show of support for police and the work they do, and the Thin Blue Line which is offensive, divisive and ultimately reinforces systemic and institutionalized racism. We would be happy to connect you with members from the advocacy groups listed above who could share statements, experiences and insights as we continue this public conversation about police accountability, systemic racism and oppression and how we can ultimately create safer communities for all.