MARYSVILLE, Wash. — The display of a Thin Blue Line flag is suddenly causing deep divisions within the Marysville School District.
A teacher who displayed the flag was ordered to take it down, yet she was still allowed to display a pride flag in her classroom.
She said she put up the Thin Blue Line flag because her brother, former Marysville Police officer Chris Sutherland, worked as a police officer for the Marysville School District for six years.
“It’s just frustrating that this tiny little flag is demonizing us,” said Sutherland, who was credited with saving lives during the mass shootings at Marysville Pilchuck High School in 2014.
Sutherland was eventually named “Washington State School Resource Officer of the Year.”
To commemorate those actions, his sister put up a Thin Blue Line flag in her classroom.
It was displayed for only a few days when school district officials ordered her to take it down because they viewed the flag as political.
“We can make everything look bad in a way, and it just happens that way,” Sutherland told KIRO 7.
According to Sutherland, his sister then asked the district if she should also take down a pride flag in her classroom.
Much to her and her brother’s surprise, district officials said the pride flag was allowed to stay.
In an interview with KIRO 7, Sutherland insisted that both flags represent much of the same thing.
“To me, it’s love and family, and I know whoever has that has got my back no matter what,” he said.
KIRO 7 tried to interview the Marysville School District superintendent, but he never got back to us.
In a statement to district employees, he insisted that the Thin Blue Line flag is political, saying in part, “While it might be viewed by some as a tribute to police, this symbol was also used by hate groups in the 2017 far-right rally in Charlottesville, and was also carried by rioters during the January 6th attacks on the US Capitol. Therefore… this symbol in a school classroom cannot be reasonably divorced from the political meanings.”
On why a pride flag was allowed to stay up—the superintendent said LGBTQ education is part of the curriculum, so the pride flag relates directly to the district’s teachings.
“Either we need to go back to only the American flag in schools, or we just go into all-encompassing flags—as long as there’s limits,” he said.
Beyond this controversy, Sutherland insisted he’ll always be proud to have served the Marysville School District, and he’ll always be proud of the Thin Blue Line flag.
“It means a lot to me. Just like the American flag. I would die for both of them.”
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