Town council sparks controversy as one major flag debacle has residents up in arms

Flags are hoisted to represent everything from individual countries and states to specific causes.

And most of the time, these flags can be seen flying in front of government buildings every day of the year.

But one Connecticut town council just ignited controversy over a major debacle involving flags they chose to fly, and one they chose not to.

Connecticut town chooses LGBTQ pride flag over thin blue line

A town council in Connecticut, which is mostly Democratic, has sparked controversy after refusing to fly the “thin blue line” flag for a state trooper who was recently killed in the line of duty.

The Wethersfield Town Council voted against a request to fly the flag, which is traditionally flown to show support for police.

The council claimed that it represents divisiveness and racism to some people.

Republican Council Member Rich Bailey suggested the town raise the “thin blue line” flag over town hall to honor fallen Connecticut State Trooper First Class Aaron Pelletier.

Pelletier, 34, was killed by a hit-and-run driver during a routine traffic stop.

The measure to fly the flag did not receive enough votes to pass at a recent council meeting, with three in favor, five against, and one abstention.

The Wethersfield Town Council is made up of six Democrats and three Republicans.

What sparked even more controversy is that the LGBTQ pride flag, which was already raised for the month of June, and other flags including the state flag and American flag, were flown at half-mast instead.

Bailey told WTNH News 8, “All we are doing is trying to respect a fallen police officer. In my home [the “thin blue line” flag] means police, and they protect us, and they are our first line of defense.”

He added, “They always are, and they’re always here, and they’re always for us.”

However, other council members argued that the flag has started to have a new meaning in recent years.

Democrat Emily Zambrello told the news station, “It represents racism and antagonism to many, many people. And if you don’t personally believe that, and you fly at your own house and you think it means something to you, that is much more positive – it’s just not how many people feel about it.”

Equating police with hate

Zambrello said that the flag is “not appropriate to raise over our town hall, especially when our flag policy prohibits us from doing anything associated with hate.”

Democrat Emily Zambrello said they offered an alternative option to the “thin blue line” flag, the first responders’ flag, to honor the trooper.

Lesser was among the no-votes regarding the flag. 

“The first responders’ flag recognizes all the first responders – police, fire, emergency management. The ‘blue line’ flag was designed for police officers, and it goes back over 100 years, but now it has been used by white supremacists and many police groups have disavowed that flag,” he said.

However, Rich Bailey, who is a retired fire chief, would not accept the first responders’ flag as a replacement.

Trooper Pelletier, who was killed by an allegedly drugged driver, had thousands of people in attendance at his funeral service. 

Stay tuned to Blue State Blues for any updates to this ongoing story.

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