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Madison County refuses to stop flying controversial Thin Blue Line flag

Mike Jaquays
Mid-York Weekly USA TODAY NETWORK

Madison County Board of Supervisors chairman John Becker says the Thin Blue Line flag at the county complex in Wampsville will not be taken down despite a demand from the Hamilton Area Anti-Racism Coalition to remove it.

He said he has heard from the board and it is very clear they have decided the flag stays. If the HAARC still believes that they are right on this issue, then it can be settled in the court of law, “where rash, law abiding citizens of our great country settle their disputes,” Becker said.

John Bailey and the HAARC sent a letter to the Madison County Board of Supervisors shortly after the incidents Jan. 6 at the United States Capitol Building. The letter, dated Jan. 13, told the board that the same Thin Blue Line flag was seen in televised reports from the scene in Washington, D.C.

The Thin Blue Line flag is seen Jan. 20 in front of the Madison County Public Safety Building in Wampsville. The Hamilton Area Anti-Racism Coalition has requested its removal from all county buildings but the county Board of Supervisors says it will stay.

“We all have watched the images of the mob breaching the U.S. Capitol Building, disrupting our constitutional process, threatening the lives of our elected officials and murdering a Capitol police officer,” the letter said. “In those images, I noticed some of the symbols that this mob was brandishing. One in particular was the presence of the Thin Blue Line flag waving prominently in the crowd.”

That same flag is now also flying at the Madison County complex, Bailey wrote.

“No matter what this flag originally represented, it is now and will forever be part of one of the worst days in our country’s history,” Bailey wrote. “This flag is now a symbol of anarchy, racism and insurrection. Yes, that mob also appropriated our American flag. That was incredibly disrespectful. But that symbol clearly does not and should not divide us. It represents the higher ideals of our freedom and liberties and not sedition and lawlessness. The red, white and blue is a symbol that seeks to unite us and not divide us. The Thin Blue line flag has become a symbol of division!”

He suggested the Board of Supervisors immediately instruct Madison County Sheriff Todd Hood to remove the flag from the Madison County Jail and any other building in their jurisdiction.

“It has no place on any public building of Madison County and for that matter any in these United States,” Bailey wrote.

Becker and the Board of Supervisors disagree.

“While we certainly appreciate the diversity of opinion, something our great country was founded on, we at Madison County take offense to the HAARC’s demand to remove the Thin Blue Line flag from our county complexes,” Becker said. “We support our men and women in uniform who help and protect us every day, whether it is because you were in a car accident, a neighbor dispute, drug investigations, a wellness check or assisting new parents with properly installing a car seat. These brave men and women put their lives on the line every day for us. We fly this flag to show our support for them.”

Becker explained that the flag was raised at the county complex after gangs in Chicago put a $10,000 bounty on police, burned buildings and threw bricks and ice at the brave men and women of law enforcement. Those are people who are here to help keep us all safe, he said.

The flag continues to fly as a symbol of support for the members of our Madison County Sheriff’s Office, Becker added.

“Enough is enough,” he said. “We live in a great county, one of the best in New York State. This demand from the HAARC is insulting to the brave men and women throughout our county who do their jobs every day.”

The Thin Blue Line flag, like other flags of its kind, represents the good in law enforcement and shows the county’s support for them, Becker explained.

“It is time to use our symbols properly and not let a few determine the misrepresentation of them,” he said. “We here in Madison County support our law enforcement, our fire departments, our 911 operators, our EMS, our soldiers and more, we will gladly fly their flags as well to show that support.”

Mike Jaquays is the managing editor for the Mid-York Weekly. For unlimited access to his stories, please subscribe or activate your digital account today. Email Mike Jaquays at mjaquays@gannett.com.