Maryland governor slams official who banned 'divisive' pro-police flag

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By Tim Stelloh  with NBC News Politics
Image: James Shelton presented the Montgomery County Department of Police w
James Shelton presented the Montgomery County Department of Police with a wooden American flag.   -  Copyright  Montgomery County Department of Police via Twitter

Maryland's governor slammed a local official who blocked a police department from displaying a "thin blue line" flag.

Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said Sunday he was "offended and disgusted" at the move by Marc Elrich, the Democratic executive of Montgomery County, outside Washington D.C.

In a statement Friday, Elrich said the Montgomery police department would not display an American flag featuring the thin blue line, a symbol long embraced by law enforcement officers that illustrates the narrow line between chaos and order.

The flag, which has been embraced by the Blue Lives Matter movement, was given to the police department by a resident on National First Responders Day. The department tweeted a photo of the flag and its maker on Wednesday, saying it would be displayed in a local station house.

Two days later, Elrich called the flag a symbol of "support" to some and "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.

Hogan responded Sunday that the same flag hangs in the governor's mansion. To ban it was "outrageous and unconscionable," he said.

A spokesman for Elrich did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.

Earlier this year, a government employee in Portland, Oregon, sued Multnomah County after she said she was harassed for asking that the flag to be taken down, the Associated Press reported.

The woman, along with other black co-workers, had complained that the flag demeaned the Black Lives Matter movement, according to the AP. The county settled with the woman, Karimah Guion-Pledgure, for $100,000 in April.

The AP reported that white supremacists at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, displayed the flag alongside Confederate flags.

Blue Lives Matter members condemned the display, the AP reported.