Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is demanding the reversal of a county official's decision to ban pro-police artwork from a county building.
James Shelton and his young son, Forrest, designed a "thin blue line" wooden flag and delivered it to the 5th District Police Station in Germantown, Maryland. The gesture was in recognition of National First Responders Day, Oct. 28, which is a day set aside to honor the millions of career and volunteer firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians and dispatch personnel across the country.
But after the police station posted a picture of the flag on Facebook and Twitter, several comments surfaced calling the flag racist and accusing the county of racism for displaying it.
On Saturday, County Executive Marc Elrich sided with detractors and called for the removal of the flag.
"The flag provides a symbol of support to some but it is a symbol of dismissiveness to others. Because it is divisive, the flag will not be posted at the 5th District nor in any public space within the Police Department," Elrich said in a statement to WJLA.
The flag's removal did not go unnoticed by Gov. Hogan, though, who forcefully criticized Elrich's decision on Twitter, saying he was "offended and disgusted" by its removal.
Gov. Hogan went on to say that there are "thin blue line" flags hung in Government House and that prohibiting police from displaying a flag given to them as a gift by a child is "disgraceful."
In another tweet, Gov. Hogan demanded that Elrich immediately reverse his "terrible decision" and "apologize to the police and citizens of Montgomery County."
Elrich claims the flag is used in association with the Blue Lives Matter movement and sends the wrong message.
He also responded specifically to Hogan's criticisms:
"He's the governor of a state that has a whole lot of black citizens, and he's got to know the sensitivity of this issue," Elrich told WRC-TV. "I mean, my God, we watched what happened in Baltimore a couple years ago."
Elrich's comments are likely in reference to the 2015 Baltimore protests spawned after Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died while in police custody.