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Police Chief Bans Officers From Wearing Face Masks That Some May Find 'Disrespectful'


On Friday, San Francisco police officers patrolling a protest did so wearing “thin blue line flag” masks, the black-and-white American flag with the blue stripe across the middle.

In response, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott sent out an email asking officers to stick to neutral face coverings. The email stated that the “thin blue line flag” is “a meaningful expression to honor fallen officers.”

He continued: “As an affirmation of the principle of safety with respect for all, we will replace the personal protective equipment to which some community members have objected.”

The San Francisco Examiner stated that before Scott’s statement, “When shown a video of a row of officers wearing the face masks, Supervisor Shamann Walton reserved judgment but said, ‘That looks more like something you see below the Mason Dixon Line.’”


Police Commissioner John Hamasaki wrote an email to Scott stating that the masks were a “clear policy violation.”

The email continued, “This raises real concerns for me about the battle for the heart and soul of the department. Are we moving forward or being dragged into the pre-reform days of SFPD? Without oversight, it appears that some in the department are openly flouting our policies, with the endorsement of the POA. Let’s not let the bad actors drag us back into the past.”

Retired American Civil Liberties Union attorney, John Crew, stated that the combination of the “thin blue line” flag and the San Francisco Police Officers Association logo on the masks represented “two issues combined. The thin blue line is a political symbol. And it’s a POA-branded mask. It’s like wearing a political button.”


He speculated that Scott and the police union were at odds, stating, “It makes you wonder if it was some sort of stunt and if they were trying to provoke a controversy.”

According to The Examiner, Crew also stated, “The definition of a uniform is that its uniform. There is no option to add your own statements, affiliations, whatever. In addition to the flag, the masks feature an SFPOA logo. The POA is a political organization. They can’t alter their uniforms to say ‘POA’ anymore than they can alter their uniforms to say ‘ACLU’ or ‘Donald Trump.’ … It’s not just the message that it sends to the black community. It’s the message that it sends to San Francisco. The POA is still going to act like they don’t have to adhere of the policies of the department or the values of this city. Who the heck in the command staff, anybody from sergeant and above who saw these masks, thought that this would be okay?”

Sources: America Now / Photo Credit: LisaLisa815

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