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New Brunswick

Mountie wears ‘thin blue line’ patch while escorting man convicted of hate crime

REGINA — A symbol associated with white nationalist movements was recently carried by a Saskatchewan Mountie while escorting an inmate who had just been convicted of hate speech.

REGINA — A symbol associated with white nationalist movements was recently carried by a Saskatchewan Mountie while escorting an inmate who had just been convicted of hate speech.

The officer showed a “thin blue line” on the left side of his hat on Thursday as he escorted Travis Patron back to jail from the Court of King’s Bench in Estevan.

Patron, who founded the Canadian Nationalist Party in 2019 and led the federal election, was sentenced to a year in prison for hate speech against Jews. His far-right party was deregistered from Elections Canada this year, but it had previously pushed for a white ethnonational state dominated by Canadians of European descent.

The symbol of a horizontal blue bar over a monochrome Canadian flag has been co-opted by some white nationalist movements, while others see it as a way for police to honor fallen officers.

The RCMP banned it from uniforms in 2020.

“The ‘thin blue line’ is not a symbol that the RCMP can endorse for official use and can be hurtful to parts of our community by conveying an ‘us against them’ mentality,” the Saskatchewan RCMP said in a statement Explanation.

Citing privacy concerns, the RCMP declined to reveal the identity of the officer who wore the patch after The Canadian Press provided photos of him exiting the courthouse with it on his hat. It also declined to make a statement on its behalf.

“The photos provide a valuable opportunity for senior management, including the Saskatchewan RCMP Sergeant Major, to re-educate individuals about the RCMP’s Uniform and Dress Manual and the impact of the ‘thin blue line’ on portions of the communities we serve . said the RCMP.

This is the second time this month that the National Police Agency has reminded its officers not to wear the symbol.

Nova Scotia RCMP emailed staff earlier this month that the patch was banned. It came after pictures surfaced online showing a member with the patch on the front of his uniform at a Freedom Fighters rally in Nictaux, NS

“The symbol is intentionally ambiguous,” said Barbara Perry, director of the Center on Hate, Bias, and Extremism at Ontario Tech University.

“It was a property of sorts … and was claimed by white supremacists to reflect their views and police solidarity with those views. But in general, I think most officers don’t really see that,” Perry said.

Many officers in Canada would be saddened to learn that other groups have misused the “thin blue line” flag, the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners said in a report it released in May, before banning its officers from carrying it.

“It can represent a society that’s quite dystopian, and … for some people, it can be divisive between the police force and the communities we serve,” the report said.

The symbols were also ordered from officers’ uniforms in Edmonton, Victoria, Ottawa, Toronto and Saint John.

In the United States, the symbol was spotted at Black Lives Matter rallies and was on flags during the US Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.

Some police services have labeled the symbol as racist.

“It is clear that the history and controversy surrounding this symbol, particularly its racist and extremist origins, is not consistent with the protective and community services” officials in Charlottetown seek to provide, the city’s police said in a statement in July, according to One of its officers wore the symbol at a Pride event.

Perry said it was difficult to know what the Saskatchewan official was trying to communicate by wearing the symbol.

“Even so, it’s still that ‘us versus them’ display. It distances itself from the people they are meant to serve, and that in itself is problematic.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on October 26, 2022.

Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press

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