The “Thin Blue Line” flags, a Blue Lives Matter initiative highlighting their fallen brothers and sisters have been the center of a dispute between members of the Hingham firefighter’s union and town officials—have been removed.
Hingham Firefighters Local 2390 refused to comply when the controversial flag, which is considered as a sign of bigotry and hatred produced in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, was ordered to be removed from the fire engine of Hingham.
The cops then showed up there and carried out the city leaders’ directive because the firefighters refused to comply. The Firefighters said that its members could not bring themselves to remove the flags so they teamed up with area law enforcement officers and other first responders to take them down on their “own terms”; however, the police officers must have found it difficult to take down a flag that had been raised in memory of previous policemen who had died while performing their duties.
The union said in a Facebook post:
“We were aware of an impending order to remove the flags from the apparatus,” the post read.
“We did not want to risk the chance of having these flags removed from the trucks in a disrespectful manner. The decision was made to conduct the removal of the flags on our own terms to provide the highest level of respect that they deserve,” the post continued.
It is not clear how this issue became a police matter and required their involvement beyond city officials asking them to remove the flags, which obviously support police.
The union donated the flags to the Weymouth Police Department (WPD) in honor of Weymouth Police Sergeant Michael Chesna, a 42-year-old father of two who was murdered in the line of duty while chasing a suspect on foot on July 15, 2018.
The union explained on July 23, 2021, in a Facebook post that it began flying thin blue line flags from the town’s fire apparatus in observance of the anniversary of Sgt. Chesna’s line-of-duty death:
“The flags were recently put on the apparatus leading up to the anniversary of the senseless murder of officer Michael Chesna in our neighboring community of Weymouth,” the union said in the post.
“We continued to fly the flags after the anniversary in support of the law enforcement officers in our own community, as well as all law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day.”
Arguing that the thin blue line flags did not represent a “political statement…nor was it an attempt to show support for, or against, any specific political party or advocacy group.
However, critics complained to the city, and the latter ultimately decided that flying thin blue line flags from the fire engine “was a violation of a town policy,” in accordance with the firemen.
According to reports, the Board of Selectmen also demanded an end to the “ceaseless and vicious” harassment of the complainant:
“In the last week he has received numerous threats against his property and his life. The harassment is ceaseless and vicious. And it has recently expanded to target the welfare and safety of his family.
“Such conduct debases any attempt at public discourse and makes hypocrites of those who would call for respect for public safety officers while simultaneously threatening the safety of others.
“When petitioning the Board of Selectmen leads to name calling, character assassination, intimidation and threats of physical violence, this only serves to deface all flags that we might choose to display in honor of our peace officers.”
However, the union repeatedly asked for a copy of the policy its members were alleged to have violated, but “have been met with silence,” the group said in a post:
“The past few days have been very disappointing for the members of Local 2398. Our disappointment began with the decision that the ‘Thin Blue Line’ flags should be removed from our apparatus. That feeling has continued over the past few days, as our repeated requests for a copy of the policy that we have allegedly violated, have been met with silence. The firefighters of Local 2398 display the highest level of professionalism and respect at all times, and it is disheartening to not have that reciprocated.
“Despite the frustration this has caused, the community has responded with an overwhelming outpouring of support for the members of Local 2398, Hingham Police officers, Weymouth Police officers, and the Chesna family. The voices of support have far outweighed the voices of opposition. It is abundantly clear the vast majority of people support the thin blue line for exactly what it represents.
“The ‘Thin Blue Line’ has existed for over 100 years. It has always, and will always, represent the men and women of law enforcement that hold the line between peace and chaos. Especially those who have bravely made the ultimate sacrifice during the performance of these heroic duties. We stand by our initial statement that this has no political message for one reason, and one reason only, because honoring the sacrifices made by the men and women of law enforcement is not political. Period.
“It should also be noted that several instances of material that could be viewed as ‘political’ in nature have been found throughout the Town of Hingham. Many times on town owned property. It is our position that if this policy does exist, it should be enforced in all instances. It should not be based on whether or not a resident finds it offensive.
“At this time the Hingham Firefighters of Local 2398 respectfully request the town reconsider their decision to deem these flags as political statements. Otherwise, we regret to inform you that over the past 4 days no member of Local 2398 was able to sacrifice his or her moral fortitude in order to remove the flags from the apparatus. As we said before, our support for our brothers and sisters in blue is unwavering. The flags have continued to fly with honor every day. They will have to be removed by someone other than a member of this union.”
The post was signed, “In Solidarity, Hingham Firefighters Local 2398, Lt. Chris Melanson, Local 2398 President.”
The union claimed that despite the town’s authorities’ lack of response being “disheartening,” the community has shown them “an overwhelming outpouring of support.”
Michael Chesna didn’t pass away from a natural reason, such as a heart attack. Chesna was instead knocked to the ground by the suspect he was after finding a sizable rock and using it to strike him smack the head. The suspect and Chesna then engaged in a struggle before the suspect managed to take the officer’s service weapon. The suspect then turned the gun on the officer, shooting him repeatedly until he was killed in the head and torso.
The WPD along with the union participated in the thin blue line flag removal ceremony.