Danvers Town Manager, Steve Bartha, has released the following statement to media outlets regarding removal of the ‘Thin Blue Line’ flags from fire apparatus. The Town has no further comment beyond this statement.
“As local government officials and public servants, our responsibility is to work in support of all residents of and visitors to Danvers regardless of their belief systems or lived experiences.
When we as public servants, through speech, actions, or the symbols we display, have intentionally or unintentionally undermined the confidence of marginalized members of our community, we are obligated to act.
The thin blue line flag means different things to different people, and it has long been an important symbol of support and solidarity for members of public safety departments and their families.
Unfortunately, the symbol has also become a form of political speech in today’s social landscape that has the power to make marginalized members of our community feel unwelcome and unsafe, so this week I ordered them to be removed from Danvers fire apparatus.
I reached this decision in consultation with the Chair of the Board of Selectmen and after notifying both the Police Chief and Fire Chief.
Danvers is a community that has long supported its police and fire departments, and we are fortunate to have some of the best trained and best equipped officers and firefighters in the Commonwealth.
I understand that this decision may not be universally supported, and that some may view the decision as lack of support for our public safety departments.
That could not be further from the truth.
To the contrary, it is a decision intended to reaffirm our support and commitment to every single member of our community.”