"We will do this carefully, and we will do this respectfully so we can attempt to move forward as a community," said Town Administrator
Flags causing a furor
On Tuesday, more than 80 residents called in to a
Last week, a resident emailed selectmen raising concerns over the thin blue line flags, which are used to show support for police officers, that currently fly from
"The thin blue line flag has undoubtedly become a political symbol, most often used to counter
The resident pointed out that selectmen recently declined to fly the LGBT+ Pride flag at town buildings during Pride month. At the time, selectmen cited a precedent that town buildings fly only the
"The flags have continued to fly with honor every day. They will have to be removed by someone other than a member of this union," Lt.
Show of support, or white supremacist symbol?
"This narrative highlights an assumed difference between officers and citizens, and the idea that police officers need to walk a line between chaos and order, which in my opinion perpetuates an "us versus them" mentality," he said. "It doesn't help build support in our communities between the officers and the public."
"I hope we do have a policy, so no hate can happen to anyone in our town," he said
Back the Blue rally sharpens the debate
The discussion, which lasted nearly 90 minutes, came several hours after about 100 residents gathered outside
"I think that fairly proves the point that it was wise for our select board and for our chiefs to distance themselves from this particular flag," she said.
In response, Mayo said town officials would "look into this occurrence to see if any policies have been violated and take appropriate action," promising to do so "in a respectful manner."
A problem that "doesn't happen in
"We are experiencing tremendous pressure that has really taken a toll on everyone who serves in our profession and the fire profession," he said. "Our officers are stressed out right now. They're worn out. They're confused."
The fact that officers have had to perform all their duties during the pandemic is just one example of the intense pressure that comes with the job, he said. The social unrest in recent weeks has also placed increased stress on officers.
Officers are "trying to figure out... why we're being held responsible for something that doesn't happen in
Fire Chief Murphy spoke briefly during the meeting to answer a question about how long the flags have flown on
Selectmen weigh in
"I think it's important to act consistently," she said.
Power said the town has historically been a bastion of "civil discourse," and urged residents to uphold that tradition during this latest debate.
"I think when things get divisive, they get in the way of listening, understanding and working together to find a path forward, which has really been the hallmark of this town for nearly 400 years," she said.
The selectmen all signed on to a statement originally drafted by Selectman
Selectmen said in their statement that they have "stood with our men and women in blue" in response to demands to defund the police in the wake of the killing of
"No group has more respect for the men and women of the
The statement also condemned threats levied at the resident who requested the flags be taken down. Since the request has gone public, the resident has faced "ceaseless and vicious" harassment, including threats to his life and harassment that has expanded to his family.
"Such conduct debases any attempt at public discourse and makes hypocrites of those who would call for respect for public safety officers while simultaneously threatening the safety of others," the statement read.
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