YORK, Maine — Charlie Black, the son of fallen State Police Trooper Charles Black who died 55 years ago this month, said Monday night it is “time to move forward, be positive and stop the name calling,” days after he removed a Thin Blue Line flag from a York Street pole to honor his father.
“I hope we can discuss this civilly. A lot of comments on social media really haven’t been civil and they’re not healthy for the town,” he said. But he also made the point that “the Thin Blue Line symbol belongs to us and we’re not going to let anyone hijack it. We’re not giving it up.”
He said as a way to turn the situation around, he is planning to start a nonprofit “in support of Maine’s law enforcement officers. I’m thinking of doing something positive about this.”
Black was among a number of people who spoke at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting about the flag, which was taken down by Black and his mother, former selectman Mary Black Andrews, last week.
The flag raised concerns among members of the York Diversity Forum, who spoke with town officials about the message that could be sent by a flag which was used along with other symbols by white nationalists at the 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In the days after the York Weekly wrote an article about the situation, there was a significant outcry from residents, particularly on social media, who supported Black’s right to fly the flag, expressed support for law enforcement officers and disagreed with the concerns that had been raised.
Some of those who spoke at the meeting enforced that sentiment. Shawn Darrow, a York police officer who said he was speaking only for himself, said he was concerned that by raising this matter the town is giving power to the Unite the Right movement, which organized the Charlottesville rally. He said the head of the movement also held an American flag at a rally the following day “as his unifying symbol of hate.”
“You gave him and his hate group a voice, you gave him power. That’s what they want,” he said. “You let him sow this perfect town with hate, unrest and controversy.”